A Japanese start-up is using virtual reality to give humans a robotic avatar

The Japanese start-up Adawarp is using virtual reality to give people control of a real-life robotic avatar. 

While that might sound pretty cool, there’s a bit of a catch — the robot avatar is a teddy bear. 

Tatsuki Adaniya, the co-founder of Adawarp, created software for the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset that would allow you to teleport yourself into the body of a teddy bear. The user would be able to see out of the bear’s eyes and move its head and arms.

The bear is built with a speak and built-in microphone so that the user can hear and communicate through the toy, MIT Review reports.

When you move your head, the bear’s head moves to due to a movement-recording sensor built into the headset.

An XBox controller can be used to move the bear’s arms, but Adaniya is working on creating a motion-recording sensor for the arms too so the movements are more natural.

Adaniya was inspired to create the headset after breaking up with a long-distance girlfriend. He told MIT Review that it could allow for a better communication system than something like Skype because you can interact with the person in the same room.

“If you put this headset on, you can go anywhere,” he wrote on his website. “If I had this device a year ago, I wouldn’t have had to break up with my girlfriend.”

Adaniya’s company, Adawarp, just went through River — a startup incubator focused on virtual reality — which invests at least $US200,000 in each company in the program.

He hopes to ship out a version with just a plain plastic body, no fur, by the end of 2016 for $US200. 

Here’s a bear prototype in action:


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