(Screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia)
Are you in love with your smartphone? A new plush toy and app combo from Japan lets you hug it and pet it and squeeze it and call it George.
Smartphones just aren't cuddly enough. We've always thought so. When we all got our very first models, it was a major disappointment that we couldn't give them a big ol' hug and have them whisper sweet nothings in our ears.
It's OK, though. A team of graduate students led by Yuta Sugiura at the Keio University Graduate School of Media Design, Japan, have our backs. They have created a series of stuffed toys that you can put your phone inside, give it a squeeze, and your phone will respond by talking or flashing lights.
It does this by using the phone's LED flash and camera. When you activate the app and put it inside the toy or pillow, the light comes on. The camera is able to gauge how well the light bounces off the stuffing inside the toy; when you squeeze the toy, the stuffing compresses, reducing the amount of light, and the app reacts accordingly.
Although it would eat up some of your phone's battery life, it's a pretty smart and interesting way to make use of a smartphone's peripheral features. We imagine it would be great for creating a programmable stuffed toy that could play back your own recordings — something to comfort a child, perhaps, if you had to go away for a day or two.
Check out how it works in the video below.