Tribbles, you may recall, are the cute and soft little buggers from the Star Trek universe that procreate about as often as I type words into this story. But do you want to know the real trouble with Tribbles? They’ve somehow brainwashed us and have manipulated humankind into manufacturing them. And even though they’re not for sale yet, they’ll probably cost a lot of money, the better to destroy our species.
Future heir to the universe’s throne Anna Flagg, along with others at the Sensory Perception and Interaction Research Group (SPIN), have invented the Cuddlebot, a cute and soft little bugger that can’t produce offspring yet, but it’s only a matter of severely limited time. Cuddlebots are touch-sensitive robots that can differentiate between nine different kinds of touching, and can even tell who’s doing it, and it knows that person will call it master.
A big furry ball of mechanized wires, the Cuddlebot can tell whether you’re scratching it, rubbing it, or tickling it, among other things. (No word on strangling though.) After time, it can tell the difference between those who do the tickling. Though it’s at a toy level now, SPIN hopes to further develop the device to use with cell phones and deliver “emotions” through applied gestures. You hear that, horny Japanese inventors?
Reeling it back a little, Flagg intends for Cuddlebots to help improve a person’s emotional state, much as an actual pet would. She’s successfully tested its therapeutic worth on sick children, and her collaborator, Karen MacLean, aims to use them as stress detectors in adults. Hey, if Cuddlebots do more than gun control to stop lunatics from walking around shooting people, I’m down with that. But there should probably be a wardrobe change before SPIN legitimately thinks that grown-ass men are going to use this thing for anything beyond what I insinuated with my Japanese inventor comment. View the wicked thing below.