This robotic limb can attach to a smartphone and make it walk, pat, stroke and moreHARDWARE NETWORKING LINUX SOFTWAREIt Tech Technology

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Sunday, October 7, 2018

This robotic limb can attach to a smartphone and make it walk, pat, stroke and more

Breakthroughs in robotics have helped in developing some very high-end prosthetics off late, but never have we seen one that can attach to a smartphone...until now. Parisian scientists have developed a new robotic limb called ‘MobiLimb’ which can be attached to a phone to serve multimodal communication. MobiLimb can help users control virtual and physical objects 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, notes the research paper detailing MobiLimb. 

How does MobiLimb work? The devices is has shape-changing abilities and a compact form factor, making it easily compatible with smartphones. It is essentially a small 5 DoF (Degree of Freedom) robotic manipulator that attaches to phones or tablets. “Our approach aims at overcoming mobile device limitations (static, passive, motionless) by using a robotic limb. 

This approach preserves the form factor of mobile devices and the efficiency of their I/O capabilities, while introducing new ones: (1) the users can manipulate and deform the robotic device (input), (2) they can see and feel it (visual and haptic feedback), including when its shape is dynamically modified by the mobile device. Moreover, as a robotic manipulator, (3) it can support additional modular elements (LED, shells, proximity sensors),” noted researchers from the University of Paris-Saclay in France. 

The device is also designed to assist users with disabilities to ease tactile tasks. Imagine getting a notification on your phone and having a robotic finger tapping you to alert you of the notification. Or, using it to turn on/off lights in your living room. 

It can also be used as an alternative to display information on the phone’s screen such as the current state of the phone (e.g. flight mode, battery level, etc). What’s more? Well, with the robotic limb attached, a smartphone can also move on its own and crawl to you when you need it! Creepy, but one can definitely see the use for something like this. Check out the MobiLimb in the video below.

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