A professor in the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Tokyo, Masahiko Inami, and his team, have created wearable robotic arms to examine the possibilities of merging humans and machines.
Inspired by the concept of “jizai,” a Japanese term denoting autonomy and freedom, Inami’s team aims to establish a relationship between humans and their technological extensions.
The goal is to create a connection akin to that of a musician and their instrument, blurring the line between person and tool.
Inami further drew inspiration from traditional Japanese puppetry and a haunting short story by Yasunari Kawabata, where a man borrows a woman’s arm for a night of intimacy.
He explained, “This is absolutely not a rival to human beings, but rather something that helps us do as we please, like a bicycle or e-bike. It supports us and can unlock creativity.”
A captivating promotional video showcased ballet dancers gracefully performing with robotic arms protruding from their backs and torsos.
Human and machine merge seamlessly, moving in perfect harmony. In the end, the dancers embrace, cyborg arms included.
Meanwhile, Inami revealed that some wearers become attached to the arms over time, stating, “Taking them off after using them for a while feels a little sad. That’s where they’re a little different from other tools.”
However, the potential of these “Jizai Arms” extends beyond fulfilling the fantasies of novelists.
Inami believes they could aid in search-and-rescue missions and imagines a future where wings sprout from people’s backs or drones attach to individuals.
The possibilities are vast. “Maybe someone will come up with a sport that requires six arms or invent a new type of swimming,” he mused.
The development of wearable robotic arms offers a glimpse into a future where human-machine integration opens up endless creative and practical opportunities.
While it may seem like science fiction, the University of Tokyo’s innovative project demonstrates the potential for a harmonious partnership between humans and technology.