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Hug and SenseChair Robotic Prototypes

Hug and SenseChair Robotic Prototypes
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Developed by a team of Carnegie Mellon University interaction and product designers, the Hug and the SenseChair are robotic product prototypes designed to improve the quality of life for the world’s growing elderly population. The Hug, which looks like a 16-inch pillow, uses vibrations and heat, light and sound signals to mimic human interaction (such as a child's hug) and is designed to augment phone calls and ultimately help the elderly communicate more meaningfully with distant family members. The SenseChair is equipped to sense, monitor, stimulate, interact and communicate with the sitter. The products will go on show in New York this week.

The Hug uses sensory technology and wireless telephony to augment phone calls. The Hug, which looks like a 16-inch pillow, uses vibrations and heat, light and sound signals to mimic human interaction, such as a child's hug. Scientists say that the Hug may ultimately help America's elderly communicate more meaningfully with distant family members.

As its name suggests, The SenseChair is equipped with sensors, which record information about the sitter's position and length of time in the chair. The chair is then capable of providing peripheral responses in the form of gentle vibration motors, sounds and lights. The chair has the ability to actually communicate with the sitter.

Principal designers of the Hug and the SenseChair are Jodi Forlizzi, assistant professor of design and of human-computer interaction; Francine Gemperle, design researcher on the Project on People and Robots; and Carl DiSalvo, Ph.D. candidate in the School of Design.

"We became focused on the home as a place for interaction with technology because it has significant challenges," said Forlizzi. "People have collections of objects that are aesthetically important to them. There are pieces of furniture and appliances that have great meaning to individuals and families—bringing technology into this environment can be difficult."

Forlizzi heads the SenseChair team, which also includes Ron Kemnitzer, president of the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) and the 2003-4 Nierenberg Distinguished Visiting Professor of Design; DiSalvo; Gemperle; and Bilge Mutlu, Ph.D. candidate in human-computer interaction.

"The last thing we want is for people to point at it and say, 'That's a robot,'" DiSalvo added. "We want them to say, 'That's a chair,' ideally, 'That's my favorite chair.'"

Carnegie Mellon's Project on People and Robots is a collaborative research center that includes researchers from both the School of Design and the Human-Computer Interaction Institute. The School of Design is part of Carnegie Mellon's College of Fine Arts, which also includes the schools of Art, Architecture, Drama and Music.

The products will be on view as part of Carnegie Mellon's event "The Da Vinci Effect," a multimedia experience showcasing the university's ability to combine art and technology to create innovation with impact.

WHEN: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. April 12 and 13

WHERE: The Rhiga Royal Hotel, 151 West 54th Street (between 6th & 7th avenues).

The event will be part of a larger showcase of Carnegie Mellon technology and the arts. Reporters are invited to experience the DaVinci Effect show at 7:30 p.m. on April 12 and 13 at the Rihga Royal Hotel. The Da Vinci Effect is a multimedia presentation that combines music, lights, video montage and live drama to create an interactive and multi-sensory experience for a diverse audience. It demonstrates how Carnegie Mellon—like Leonardo Da Vinci—combines arts and technology to produce innovations with impact that can change our world.

The special New York City presentation features unique online and personal demonstration components. The Virtual Art Gallery Exhibit features the work of Carnegie Mellon artists who have exhibited at top New York galleries, while the HazMat Training Simulation Exhibit displays video game technology that Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center is working with the New York Fire Department to create.

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