Japan develops mobile phone with human touch

Japanese researchers said Thursday they have developed a human-shaped mobile phone with a skin-like outer layer that enables users to feel closer to those on the other end.

"The mobile phone may feel like the person you are talking to," the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR) said in a press release, describing the gadget as a "revolutionary telecom medium".

The project is a collaboration between Osaka University, the mobile telephone operator NTT DoCoMo and other institutes.

They hope to put it into commercial production within five years by adding image and voice recognition functions.

The prototype, slightly bigger than the size of a palm, features an outer coating that feels like human skin, ATR officials said.

A speaker is installed in the head of the doll-like gadget and a light-emitting diode in its chest turns blue when the phone is in use and red when it is in standby mode.

The body resembles a human being but its design is so blurred that it could be taken as either male or female and young or old, the press release said.

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