How are your Hugs?
They are an important part of connection with our loved ones. It is said that we need 4 Hugs a day for survival, 8 for maintenance and 12 for Growth.
I read this interesting article in the Times Today:
Feel the love with a robo-hug that’s better than the real thing
Robots give better hugs than human beings because they are physically powerful and not judgmental or clingy, scientists say.
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems presented the paper Emotionally Supporting Humans Through Robot Hugs at the International Conference on Human Robot Interaction.
Alexis Block, one of the co-authors, said the work was important because it demonstrated that robots could eventually provide people with the emotional support and health benefits of hugs on demand. Studies indicate that hugs may reduce stress and blood pressure and protect against the common cold.
To create the HuggieBot they modified a 450lb research robot by adding layers of foam and cotton padding to the torso and arms. Thirty-two participants received and reviewed 12 machine hugs, programmed in different styles. They found that people enjoyed the embraces that were tightest, softest and warmest but not too prolonged, and even felt more fondly towards the machine after contact.
They didn’t like the shortest one-second hugs, which felt cursory, as if the robot didn’t really mean it.
Ms Block told IEEE Spectrum magazine: “The results from our experiment suggest that to make a good hug whoever/whatever you hug should be compliant, warm, squeeze you, and release you immediately when you indicate you’re ready for the hug to end. Humans not only instinctively connect with each other through touch but also to their surroundings and new, exciting things they see
She added that robots could do away with the awkwardness of some human-to-human hugs. “I had several self-proclaimed introverts participate in my experiment. Some of them told me that they preferred hugging the robot over hugging other people because the robot would let them go when they indicated they were done with the hug, whereas their friends and family members would sometimes hug them for too long. I think people may like hugging robots partially because they know the robot won’t judge them for how long a hug they want or need.”
If further studies are successful, hugger-robots could be introduced in settings such as care homes, university halls of residence or even workplaces.
Critics fear that use of robots could lead to greater isolation if they are introduced by institutions to cut down on human staff. The creators have said that the HuggieBot is intended to complement, not replace, human affection
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