What would society look like if cyborg body parts were readily available for use, similar to renting bicycles along the side of the road? Through the development of wearable robotic limbs, Masahiko Inami’s team at the University of Tokyo aimed to discover.
According to Inami, his team is developing a series of technologies based on the Japanese concept of “jizai,” which roughly translates to “autonomy” and “freedom.”
The goal is to cultivate a relationship between musician and instrument that is “somewhere between a human and a tool, similar to how a musical instrument can feel like a part of your body.”
Inami says he was inspired by traditional Japanese puppetry and novelist Yasunari Kawabata’s quasi-horror short story about a man who steals a young woman’s arm and spends the night with it.
“This is not a competitor to humans, but rather something that helps us do what we want, like a bicycle or an e-bike.” It helps us and can spark creativity,” Inami explained.
A promotional video for the “Jizai Arms” depicts two ballet dancers executing a routine with robotic arms protruding from their backs and torsos – human and machine moving in unison. Ultimately, the dancers embrace, cyborg limbs included.
After a while, some wearers become attached to the arms, according to Inami. “It’s a little sad to take them off after using them for a while.” “That’s where they differ from other tools,” he explained.
However, he continued, the potential goes beyond making a novelist’s idea a reality, such as assisting in search-and-rescue activities. “We might see wings coming out of people’s backs in the future, or drones linked to humans… “Perhaps someone will invent a six-arm sport or a new type of swimming,” Inami speculated.