Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Digital cyborg designed to enable social interactions among multiple wearers

Cyborg is a man-machine system composed of organic and artificial systems in which the artificial system mimics the behavior of an organic system. Digital cyborgs have been the research focus in recent years, enabled by the increase of wearable robotics. Previously introduced Supernumerary Robotic Limbs (SRLs) were made to reduce the burden of industrial workers. Many robotic researchers developed various types of SRLs that can be controlled by foot motion.

Now researchers at the University of Tokyo have developed a robotic limb system called JIZAI ARMs. It is an SRL system with a wearable base unit, six sockets, and detachable robot arms.

The JIZAI ARMs backpack base unit with built-in sockets that enable the wearer to attach, detach, swap, and replace arms. The main objective of JIZAI ARM is to engage people in social communication, interaction, and activities.

To design the JIZAI ARM, researchers formed a specialized team consisting of Human Augmentation Researchers (HARs), Product Designers (PDs), System Architects (SA), and manufacturers. Together they designed an aesthetically pleasing digital cyborg body part that varied in thickness from the robotic arm to resemble a human arm.

For the study, groups of volunteers wore JIZAI ARMs. Participants were encouraged to exchange ARMs with each other as they saw fit and to give or receive them as gifts. They could control both their own hands and those of other volunteers.

This wearable robotic limb system could be the key to social interaction among digital cyborgs. It enables the wearer to attach and detach robotic limbs and exchange them with others.

The system is designed to enable social interactions between multiple wearers, such as arm exchanges, and to explore potential interactions between digital cyborgs in a cyborg society.

Two people can wear JIZAI ARMs; each backpack has six limb sockets. They would comfort the other person by hugging them or helping them reach and grab objects that were out of their reach but within the grasp of the robot’s arms.

The robotic limbs are part of the research team’s JIZAI’s Body project, which aims to use robotics engineering and control technology and entirely use wearable technology to create devices that people can attach to their bodies for multiple purposes.

This 6-armed cyborg could be very helpful for various purposes, such as lifting heavy goods.

Journal reference:

  1. Nahoko Yamamura, Daisuke Uriu, Mitsuru Muramatsu, Yusuke Kamiyama, Zendai Kashino, Shin Sakamoto, Naoki Tanaka, Toma Tanigawa, Akiyoshi Onishi, Shigeo Yoshida, Shunji Yamanaka, Masahiko Inami. Social Digital Cyborgs: The Collaborative Design Process of JIZAI ARMS. Proceedings of the 2023 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 2023; DOI: 10.1145/3544548.3581169