For the lonely

A design that incorporates artificial muscle technology could provide a tangible solution for people who are lonely.

A solution to many of the world’s problems can be found in design. And now a German designer has come up with a possible remedy for more abstract, emotional difficulties.

Stefan Ulrich has designed an object that uses artificial muscle technology, or electroactive polymers, to come "alive" in various ways.

The Funktionide is an “amorph” object with the ability to create an “atmosphere of presence” for lonely users. The product works to gain new dimensions as they are used, or “caressed”, ranging from changing tactile surfaces over active membranes to morphing shapes.

Ulrich explains: “In the visions, future people are lonely and with all the new dimensions products offer, they eventually turn to ‘robots’ for emotional satisfaction”.