Yamen Saraiji has four arms, and two of them are giving him a hug. The limbs embracing Saraiji are long, lanky, and robotic, and they’re connected to a backpack he’s wearing.

The arms are actually controlled remotely by another person, who’s wearing an Oculus Rift VR headset, with which they can see the world from Saraiji’s perspective (cameras linked to the backpack ensure a good view), and wield handheld controllers to direct the non-human arms and connected hands. After the hug, the robotic arms release Saraiji.

Then the right hand gives him a high five, and Saraiji smiles. Saraiji, an assistant professor at Tokyo-based Keio University’s Graduate School of Media Design, led the development of this robotic-arms-on-a-backpack project, called Fusion, to explore how people may be able to work together to control (or augment) one person’s body.

Though some of the actions Saraiji shows me via video chat from his lab in Japan are silly, he thinks the device could be useful for things like physical therapy and instructing people from afar. Besides hugging and high-fiving, the operator of the robotic arms and hands can pick things up or move around the arms and hands of the human wearing the backpack.

The mechanical hands can be removed and replaced with straps that go around the backpack-wearer’s wrists if you want to truly remote control their arms. The device, which Saraiji created with colleagues at Keio University and the University of Tokyo, will be shown off at the Siggraph computer graphics and tech interaction conference in Vancouver in August. There have been plenty of other efforts to create extra limbs that you can wear, and in fact this isn’t Saraiji’s first time making robotic limbs meant to attach to a human: he and most of the other Fusion researchers previously built a wearable set of arms and hands called MetaLimbs that a wearer controlled with their feet. Read more from technologyreview.com…

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