Forget smart phones, here comes smart fur! Anna Flag and Karon MacLean at the University of British Columbia have created Cuddlebot, a furry animal-like machine that intelligently recognizes touch gestures like strokes and tickles and responds to them.
Cuddlebot incorporates smart fur, a conductive fur which incorporates conductive threads sewn into faux animal-like fur, creating a "stroke sensor" circuit. When someone touches the fur, the hand motion changes the resistance in the circuit, which can be analyzed and classified as different kinds of gestures.
Flagg's ultimate goal is to design emotional "haptic creatures" that can be therapeutic in helping people recover emotionally from illnesses and trauma, but we just can't wait till she brings Tribbles to life.