Mobilimb augmented robotic limb on mobile devices

28/09/2021 20mins
Prasobh V Nair


The world of smartphones and technology has been shaping up at an accelerated rate. There are a number of different mechanisms that are now being used for mobile devices. The prime aim of such mechanisms is to improve the interpersonal communication of the device and to improve the overall performance.

Normally, smartphones are no more than devices that are very cold and passive. This means that they cannot move autonomously without the aid of a human being. This autonomous movement certainly does not include the smartphones that fall on our faces while we are using one in bed.

Throughout the entire day, we are used to poking at our smartphones. However, have you ever put some thought into the idea that what if your smartphone could poke back at you? While this might sound like a fantasy, it is actually a reality now.

A France-based research team is focusing on developing ways for our mobile phones to interact with us. One possible solution, is the MobiLimb

What is MobiLimb?

MobiLimb is a component that we can use on mobile devices and it totally transforms the shape of the smartphone’s body. Led by Marc Teyssier who is a PhD student along with a team of researchers spread across various universities in France, MobiLimb simply started off as a research project.

The main purpose of the MobiLimb is to remove the limitations of the mobile device which includes no motion and a static nature, similar to how human augmentation aims to remove the limitations of the human body through the use of devices.

The Mobilimb device makes use of an Arduino interface and connects to the smartphone through a microUSB port. Having freedom extending to five degrees, the robotic limb then gets powered on. There are a number of functionalities of this robotic limb. Firstly, it carries enough power to drag the phone across the floor. Secondly, it can also act as a physical avatar, and can also pop up as a mobile phone stand. Last but not the least, it may also be used as an apparatus for joystick.

While there is something creepy about the way this robotic limb movies, it is certainly quite fascinating. The way this limb drags the phone’s lifeless casing around on the floor or on the table whenever you receive a message, is quite a sight.

You may also get a light stroke from this finger attachment on your wrist at times. While this may not act as a substitute for a loving touch from your partner, it does reflect the possibilities that augmented robotic devices could bring in the near future.

But that is not all. There are a number of capabilities that these mobile limbs possess based on the current software. In the meantime, new capabilities are under development. These include the following:

  • Ability of the user to deform the device and to manipulate it.

  • The haptic and visual feedback of the limb is quite obvious and can be seen or felt

  • Additional elements such as proximity sensors, shells and LED is also supported.


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