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Robot Pillow Makes Me Uncomfortable

I'm all for emotional support robots, but this robot pillow goes a little too far

1 min read

[vimeo //vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=5509560&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=1&color=00ADEF&fullscreen=1&autoplay=0&loop=0 expand=1]

I’m all for emotional support robots, especially soft and fluffy ones that look like baby seals. This robot pillow, though, goes a little too far. It’s called Funktionide, and was designed by Stefan Ulrich after a two month research project by our favorite German bio-inspired robotics company, Festo.

The “Funktionide” is an autarkic amorph object whose intention is to provide the user with a atmosphere of presence thus counteracting the feeling of loneliness.

Firstly, if this thing crawled into bed with me, it would cure my loneliness but probably not with a sense of what you’d call relief. Maybe, terror. And secondly, inventing words isn’t fair.

[ Funktionide ] via [ Eggshell Robotics ]

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The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

12 min read
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A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof
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In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

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