A team of researchers has finally answered the question on everyone’s mind: "What if mobile devices had a robotic limb?" Well, the future is here, and a new invention spotted by Tech Radar lets you plug a faux finger into your phone.
Like something out of The Addams Family, the MobiLimb uses sensors and embedded electronics to scoot across a surface and bring you your phone. The finger-like "skin" is made from the same type of silicone that's used in Hollywood to make masks and realistic prosthetics. It's creepy, sure, but never again will you be forced to get off the couch to grab your phone when it's on the opposite end of the coffee table. So there's that.
The robotic digit is the invention of four researchers from France, including human-computer interaction researcher Marc Teyssier. Their findings—and hopefully a reasonable explanation for inventing this terrifying thing—will be presented this month at the 2018 User Interface Software and Technology Symposium in Berlin, Germany.
With the MobiLimb, your phone will no longer be boring, motionless, and passive. It taps on the table when you get a notification, and if you happen to receive a smiley face emoji while holding your phone, the robotic finger softly strokes your hand or inner wrist. Why? Well, we're not totally sure. According to researchers, the device "reacts expressively to users' actions to foster curiosity and engagement" and also "provides rich haptic feedback such as strokes, pats, and other tactile stimuli on the hand or the wrist to convey emotions during mediated multimodal communications." In other words, it's meant to make your phone more human. Yikes.
If the realistic rubber finger is too grotesque for you, you can opt instead for a robot-like one instead. Another version, clad in faux fur, is designed to resemble a wagging tail—because at this point, nothing is really surprising anymore. You can see the MobiLimb in action in the video below.
Of course, the MobiLimb has less disturbing applications, as well. It can be used as a joystick, or as a stand to prop up your phone while you watch cute cat videos. Sadly, it doesn't appear to be for sale at the moment, so all plans to freak out your friends with it will have to be put on hold.
[h/t Tech Radar]