Telenoid is a genderless, limbless android that was birthed into the world by Japanese roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro a couple of years ago. He (or she) looks uncannily like a talking, moving Caspar the friendly ghost, but with a far more unnervingly human face. His truncated limbs wiggle and gesture as he sits on his custom-made stand or else is rocked in your arms. There’s something here that’s reminiscent of the birth defect Phocomelia, which was caused by pregnant women taking thalidomide.
Telenoid has soft and pleasantly textured skin and a child-like body. He was originally created as a Skype tool, to give an extra tactile, huggable dimension to a VoIP call. This means family and friends separated by vast distances can interact with each other by using him as a tactile robotic proxy for virtual hugs.
Right now Telenoid (the huggy nightmarish Caspar the friendly ghost) is appearing at a new exhibition at the Tokyo Science Museum, along with a child-like robot called Kodomoroid who announces world news, and Otonaroid, an adult female robot that functions as a museum guide.
The jury is out about whether or not it would be terrifying to hug, handle and converse with this thing. I wonder if it will haunt my dreams tonight?
Read more about sex robots and how they alter the way we relate to man and machine here.
Would you hug or touch it?