What if you had two extra arms to help you with day-to-day tasks? A robotic backpack designed by Yamen Saraiji, an assistant professor at the Graduate School of Media & Design at Keio University in Japan, will get you part of the way toward realizing Dr. Otto Octavius's engineering vision.
With one catch: Someone else will be controlling the arms.
Saraiji's creation, which was featured recently in the design and architecture publication dezeen, consists of two articulated robotic arms and a robot head that peeks over the user's shoulder. Worn like a backpack, the arms are controlled by a remote user via an Oculus Rift and Touch device.
The remote user shares the perspective of the wearer via two cameras mounted in the robot's head. Just as a nurse acts as a second pair of hands for a doctor in an operating room, the surrogate robot enables a distant assistant to physically lend a helping hand.
The idea is an evolution on the concept of telepresence robots, which physically embody remote workers, enabling them to navigate offices and interact with coworkers. Though the robot is more conceptual than practical at this stage, it's easy to envision a use case in enterprise training, for example.
Service technicians in specialized industries may also find a use for this type of device. Augmented reality has very quickly been adopted by field service technicians, enabling high-level experts to more readily distribute their knowledge to technicians in the field. The addition of two articulated arms could help physically embody technical experts in far-flung locations.
This isn't Saraiji's first foray into human limb augmentation. A previous project called MetaLimbs enabled users to control a pair of robot arms via their legs, giving seated workers two additional upper-body limbs.
That project was featured at last year's SIGGRAPH.