iFeel_IM is a virtual hugging vest which brings a human touch to the feelings expressed on online chat.

Professor Dzmitry Tsetserukou at the Toyohashi University of Technology, Japan has developed a virtual hugging vest called the iFeel_IM which brings a subtle human sense of touch into online chat and can simulate a heartbeat, generate warmth, the tickling sensation of butterflies in the stomach or a spine tingling chill of fear.

The setup resembles the straps of a backpack which contains sensors, motors and speakers. The software in the device retrieves the emotional messages embedded in written text which triggers appropriate touch sensation in the vest. Tsetserukou says that iFeel_IM is pretty accurate and can distinguish joy, fear, anger and sadness with 90 percent accuracy. It was tested by subjects in Second Life, the online 3D virtual world.

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