There’s a whole lot that we can do with smartphones — you can bank, watch media, listen to music, control your house if you’ve been investing in some home automation tech… but what about actually touching someone? That’s an ability that MobiLimb is attempting to give to smartphone users.
MobiLimb is the creation of a bunch of French researchers, who have managed to attach a finger to a smartphone via its microUSB port. The digital digit is powered by an Arduino controller and five servomotors and is capable of being many things — including a more human sort of finger and even a fake cat’s tail. All while creeping you out, just a little.
We know it’s possible to touch someone with a phone, but usually its reserved for a slight poke with the edge to get someone’s attention. Or you could throw it from a distance, which usually guarantees someone’s full attention (especially if it’s their phone). But if you want to get the prod just right, adding a prosthetic finger should do the job.
The video above makes a strong case for wanting to add a robotic digit to your smartphone. The range of possible uses might weird out most people, but we’ll take that end result if it means that we can get our phone to crawl across the table like Thing Addams. If that also means the phone can tap on the table to get our attention because someone posted their (incorrect) opinion on Twitter, so be it.
The thing about this concept is that it doesn’t stop here. If users suddenly start wanting more tactile feedback when they’re messaging others, we’re not far off from taking a finger and turning it into a hand (at which point the adult industry starts taking notice). And we’re likely looking at eventually interacting with robotic avatars of real people — though at that point, controlling robots with a smartphone will probably be outmoded and we’ll be sending virtual hugs using human-computer neural interfaces instead. Welcome to the future, we guess?