May 13, 2012
Tokyo Researcher Introduces The World To The Robo-Butt
Reports have surfaced that Japanese researchers have at long last filled the last major void in the world of technological development. Yes, they have developed a robotic butt.
The device, CNET's Edward Moyer reported Saturday, is called "Shiri" (the Japanese work for "buttocks") and was developed by experts at the University of Electro-Comunications in Tokyo. He added that the university said the "humanoid" gluteus maximus "expresses various emotions with organic movements of the artificial muscles."What exactly does that mean? Brian Ashcraft of Kotaku explained that the unit, which was developed and demonstrated by Nobuhiro Takahashi, perfectly emulates the movements of a real life person's hindquarters. It can clench and become tense and even react to various touches, including strokes and, yes, even slaps.
"From the get-go, you have to expect a robotic butt to be pretty weird. But to be fair, there are potential applications: training proctologists and massage therapists about that region, for instance. There are similar things to train dentists and joint specialists, after all," MSNBC.com's Devin Coldewey wrote on Friday. "Problem is, the creators of this robotic butt don't seem to have had any practical considerations in mind at all. It's not a medical accessory, or a therapeutic device. It's just a twitching, quivering, hissing robotic butt."
Coldewey added that the device includes a pair of pneumatically activated muscles, which can be inflated or deflated as necessary, covered by foam and silicone as synthetic skin. He added that he and his MSNBC colleagues were "somewhat puzzled" by the device, but that Takahashi's previous projects, which include "a machine that allows you to hug yourself and a remote kissing device“¦ helps provide context."
Naturally, the very nature of the unit is sure to elicit some chuckles, but as DVice reporter Eileen Marable pointed out, the project is still a bit of a technological feat.
"To be fair, the robot technology behind researcher Nobuhiro Takahashi's project seems solid. The robot butt certainly provides a variety of visible reactions to various stimuli, twitching to trembling in response," she said. "What this will contribute to science is still unclear."
"We may never fully understand the scientific implications of the robotic buttocks, but maybe that's not what's important here," Marable added. "The robo-butt could join the legion of Japanese inventions designed to bring us the feeling of humanity -- well, without the humanity."