Researchers from the University of Tokyo have unveiled Jizai Arms, a backpack fitted with swappable, articulated robotic arms that bring the concept of cyborgs closer to reality. The Jizai Arms system is an embodiment of half a century’s worth of study and speculation into the potential of humanoid cyborgs.
Designed to enable physical and social interaction between wearers, the robotic limbs draw inspiration from traditional Japanese “Jizai Okimono,” freely moving, articulated animal figurines. The term ‘Jizai,’ roughly translating to ‘freely moving,’ is a fitting descriptor for the wearable technology.
The Jizai Arms backpack is equipped with up to six sockets into which the system-specific robot arms can be plugged. Users can choose from different types of arms, all created to harmonize aesthetically with the human body. The arms, each possessing a movement similar to spider legs, can be controlled by the wearer or another individual in real time.
The system is powered through a plugged outlet, and the arms spring into motion triggered by the body movement of the wearer. This design enables an intricate interplay between wearers, such as the exchange of robotic arms, simulating a form of communication and interaction unique to a cyborg society.
The unique mechanism was designed not only for practical uses such as assisting with mobility or dexterity challenges but also to foster social interaction among users. Experiments revealed that wearers could experience a precise sense of attachment or detachment when exchanging robotic arms, which surprisingly created a strong impact. Future research aims to add customizability to the robotic arms to generate a sense of social ownership—a shared sense of ownership towards a specific artificial body part.
Weighing in at 14 kg (31 lb) with four arms attached, the Jizai Arms system, part of the broader Jizai Body project, aims to augment human capabilities and experience with robotic technology. Through this project, the research team hopes to advance wearable technology by employing robotics engineering and control technology.
The Jizai Arms system is designed for multiple wearers, each sporting a backpack with four or more sockets for the limbs. The arms can be used for offering comfort by means of an embrace, or practical help, such as reaching objects out of the wearer’s grasp.
No specific pricing information has been released at this time, and details about the control system for the arms remain under wraps. However, a report from Analytics Vidhya suggests that a wireless remote resembling a miniature version of the arms is used for control.
The research team’s study has been published in the journal Proceedings of the 2023 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, shedding more light on the innovative concept of wearable, swappable robotic arms. Check out the video below to see the Jizai Arms in action.
Source: Jizai Arms