Robotics experts have developed a somewhat creepy-looking device that can simulate the experience of holding hands with a woman, in an effort to combat Japan’s loneliness epidemic.

“For some people, finding a girlfriend is very difficult,” say the researchers behind the project at Gifu University. With that problem in mind, they decided to create a new way for lonely men to “experience holding their girlfriend’s hand more easily” than by actually dating.

Thus, their project was born, a robotic hand called Osampo Kanojo, or the ‘Walking Bride’.

At a first glance, the Walking Bride might seem like just a hand-shaped piece of silicone, but it is actually a fairly sophisticated piece of machinery. A special rail, mounted around the Bride’s elbow, is designed to mimic push and pull motions, simulating the weight of a person that would be attached to a real hand.

The device’s soft skin-like exterior maintains the temperature of a human body, with artificial pores expressing liquid to create artificial sweat.

The fake girlfriend can even be paired with a smartphone app that plays the sound of a woman’s footsteps. It is also scented with a special perfume mix of soap and cosmetics, designed to imitate the smell of a real woman’s skin.

Currently Osampo Kanojo only has a female variant, so those on the search for a ‘Walking Husband’ might have to wait.

The developers stressed that its purpose is to comfort not only the solitary men of Japan, but also those experiencing anxiety due to social isolation amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

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