Yep, that's a picture of a man dressed as a cellphone. And while that's a Halloween costume, NTT DoCoMo and Osaka University in Japan are working on ways to make your mobile phone more human.
First up - they're going to give it skin. That's right, skin. The new prototype is slightly more than palm-sized and includes an outer layer that feels just like human skin in order to give the mobile phone a more "human" touch. But that's not all.
In addition, the company and University joint venture is also looking to make a skin-toned phone that is shaped like a human being. The doll-like mobile will be designed to resemble a human being and the shape will be vague enough that it will be impossible to tell age or gender, but the thing will have arms, legs and a head. A speaker will be placed in the head of the phone and an LED in the chest will be blue when the phone is in use and red when it is on standby. DoCoMo and Osaka U hope to also add voice and image recognition to the device and get it on the market in five years.
On the one hand we're intrigued by this - mobile phones do have a certain cold, technological feel about them, but we're not sure making our phones look human and have skin is the best answer to the "get more human contact" paradox. It might be easier, in the long run - to just go find some actual humans.
We're also a little concerned about the operation of the phone. If it is in fact doll-shaped and the speaker of the phone is in the head, where exactly is the microphone going to be? There's just something about talking into a skin-covered doll crotch that we just can't get past on this one.
Still, if this thing is going to happen anywhere, it's going to happen in Japan, and we're curious to see how this new wave of human-cellular overlap plays out.
It might just be a good call.