You may have a VTuber (Virtual YouTuber) you admire, but it’s a shame you’ll never be able to actually hold their hands. Kizuna Ai? She’s great, but what if you just want to hang out and enjoy a more intimate moment with her? Or even a simple and polite handshake? That’s an issue that SCIENCE is hoping to solve thanks to a little something called Project ToucH.
helo Co., Ltd.—which previously worked on VTuber sitcom Watanuki’s House, and even virtual tours of the Bolivian Salt Flats—is overseeing the project, which raised 152% of its initial goal on Japanese crowdfunding site Campfire. The technology aims to make it possible to shake or hold hands with a VTuber like the project’s poster girl, Hibiki Ao.
Project ToucH will accomplish this with the help of a specially designed robotic hand. Thus, the first phase of the project involves the development of a hand that can shake believably, while phase two involves making it seem as if the hand belongs to Hibiki Ao.
Researchers from Osaka University and the Kyoto Institute of Technology collaborated on the development of the hand, which involves silicone wrapped around a metal skeleton, with a small heater incorporated to add a lifelike effect. You can see the proposed idea as it might be used above, and what it’s made of below.
Now the creators of Project ToucH are looking for folks who want to use this lifelike handshaking for their own products. As for the project itself, it’s up to the backers to decide the next steps.