It is sometimes difficult to stay connected with your loved ones over long distances, especially when phone calls or texting just does not feel like enough. Microsoft has come up with a solution to this problem — a battery powered, internet-enabled pillow that allows users to send virtual hugs to each other. In the recently filed patent, Microsoft said it could be used to simulate a variety of interactions, stating:
hugs, hand-shakes, grabbing documents, writing on a whiteboard, and the like can be detected so a specific feedback force response is implemented.
The device works by utilizing the same kind of force feedback used by video game controllers built into other types of devices used in other situations.
However the device is not intended only for vibration or simple force, the patent states the feedback could also incude:
friction, haptic, tactile, electric feedback, electrical stimulation, three-dimensional feedback, vibration, shaking, physical resistance, temperature change, motion, noise, pressure, texture, a motion, a replication of touching, any combination thereof, and/or any other suitable feedback communicated via a device.
A likely application of this technology would be an integration with the internet calling service Skype, which Microsoft currently owns. By introducing a physical aspect to digital communication, there is a potential to create a better more immersive connection between users.