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Tickle Salon
Stretch out and relax, while a robot gently tickles and strokes your skin.

Life Enhancement
Many people appreciate gentle skin stimulation and find it very enjoyable. Tickle Salon induces feelings of relaxation, well-being, and improved body awareness.

Human culture is now facing the rise of machines. We are confronted with more and more complex devices that appear to have lives of their own, making their own plans, behaving autonomously. Many people feel uncomfortable when confronted with machines that are not purely slaves any more. The Tickle Salon robot also has a will of its own, but it is friendly, not frightening, and may stimulate friendship between humans and machines. The next step will be to achieve higher levels of man-machine symbiosis.

Automated tickling is an exciting topic because it brings together our interests in meta creativity, biology, and artificial intelligence, and, of course, the pleasure of being tickled. Our goal is to create a machine that is able to generate bodily sensations that are normally considered out of the question in the context of robotics.

Tickle Salon's core technical innovation is integration of robotic actuators and sensors into a simple and elegant, inexpensive, lightweight 3D system. The device is a new type of haptic system that collects information about its environment only by touching, and feeling its way around, adapting itself to whatever it encounters. The robot is blind, but it forms a mental map, which it uses to plan its motions.

The probe actuator/sensor, the "inverted pyramid" wire suspension, is a novelty. The suspension lines not only move the probe, they also serve as touch sensors. The probe does not contain any electronics; it is basically just mass, a metal ball "dressed in a skirt." The suspension lines are very thin and transparent, hardly visible, so that it seems as if the probe is free-floating in the air.

The stepper motors are controlled though custom-designed drive circuits. The control program runs on a computer with the Linux operating system. The control program is written from scratch, along with the low-level driver module that communicates with the robot hardware.

Monday, 9 August
8:30 - 10:15 am
Room 404AB

Erwin Driessens
Maria Verstappen
notnot (at)

emerging technologies jury and committee
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Conference 8-12 August, Exhibition 10-12 August.  In Los Angeles, CA