When learning a new task, it’s hard to beat having someone standing over your shoulder directing your moves. This lets the instructor see what you’re doing, and even to manipulate objects directly as needed. If your tutor can’t be there in person, Fusion — a robotic virtual reality device by robotic engineer Yamen Saraiji at Keio University in Tokyo — looks to be the next best thing.
Fusion features a pair of controllable arms that straddle the wearer as a sort of backpack. A remote operator can control these arms using handheld controllers, giving him or her the ability to manipulate objects directly via five-fingered hands, point out directions, or even guide the wearer’s arms through strap attachments. A robotic head sits just to the side of the robot’s “host,” and provides stereo vision to the remote operator via an Oculus Rift headset. The backpack-head tracks headset movements, allowing it to look around in response.
While still in a prototype phase (it currently weighs in at 21 pounds and provides 1.5 hours of battery life), a device like this could certainly be used for instructional purposes. It would even enable multiple people to work on a project, literally over one’s shoulder. Check it out in the video below!
Of course, this isn’t Saraiji’s first experiment with multiple limbs. His MetaLimbs device gives users an extra pair of hands controlled directly via foot and knee tracking!