Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (JP)
Ars Electronica Center

“Hugvie” turns a long-distance call with someone you’re close to into a very local call. When you’re on the phone, the cuddly, pillow-shaped robot gets across an intensely physical feeling of the immediate and, in the truest sense of the word, corporeal presence of the other person. With a gentle vibration, Hugvie imparts the sensation of being able to feel the heartbeat of the person you’re talking to. This enormously significant and easily affordable invention thus compensates for what is perhaps telecommunication’s greatest shortcoming—the distance bemoaned by all who long for another from afar. The name—a portmanteau of the English word hug and the French word for life—makes clear how, for a deep human relationship, there’s no substitute for physical intimacy (except this tiny Japanese robot).