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Japanese Engineers Create Robot Hand for Lonely People to Hold

It's a warm, humanlike hand that 'sweats' and squeezes back.
November 9, 2020, 9:20am
hand-holding-couple
For illustrative purposes only. Photo: Kimi Albertson, PEXELS

We are living in an era where finding a romantic companion is the easiest it's ever been. With people sliding into DMs with cheesy pickup lines and spending hours swiping right on Tinder to land a match with a potential partner, discovering love is accessible even when you’re chilling on a toilet seat. 

And yet many people still don’t get their happily ever after. For those single lonely hopeless romantics, research engineers in Japan have a solution — a robotic girlfriend’s hand. Not an entire robot’s body, just a hand. 

The Osampo Kanojo, which roughly translates to “Walk Girlfriend,” is a warm, humanlike motorized hand made for people who just want a hand to hold. It was invented by four engineers from Japan’s Gifu University.

“For some people, finding a girlfriend is very difficult,” they said, according to SoraNews24. They invented the hand for single people to “experience holding your girlfriend’s hand more easily than by finding a girlfriend.” 

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This video shows how the prototype of the Osampo Kanojo works.  

While it still looks Terminator-esque, the engineers actually added several features to make it feel more real. 

The hand itself was made with soft pliable gel to recreate “the tenderness of a woman’s hand.” It also has an internal pressure sensor which prompts the hand to squeeze back when the user squeezes it first, mimicking the reaction of a real hand. 

The hand is mounted on a structure that is aligned perpendicular to the user’s wrist, which gives a tugging sensation to the arm when they walk too quickly, creating a hyper-realistic feeling of walking in pace with someone. 

The Osampo Kanojo also has an internal heater, which allows warmth to radiate from its fingers. The hand ‘sweats’ through a piece of moistened fabric placed inside. When the heater is activated, the moisture goes through small pores. 

Though the hand does not come with a complete body, it does include sound effects that can be played through phones. These include footsteps, breathing, and the gentle rustle of clothing. 

Then there’s the smell. The cloth placed inside the Osampo Kanojo is treated with women’s shampoo and the scent is released when the cloth is heated. 

According to SoraNews24, the engineers plan to create a male version of the robot hand as well, with a more durable outer coating and substitute fragrances like cologne, barbecue charcoal, or motor oil. The engineers said that they see the invention as a potential tool for comforting people isolated during the coronavirus pandemic. However, it is unclear when the new tech will be available