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Pretty much everyone has a mobile phone today, in all shapes and sizes and different capabilities. There are smartphones with touchscreens and then there are some pretty cool concept phones out there.

The Elfoid certainly fits the category of strange, and I’ll admit it, rather creepy. This Japanese invention, developed in Osaka University with the help of NTT DoCoMo, is a human-shaped mobile phone that is supposed to make you to feel closer to the person on the other end.

It has a skin-like outer layer and wiggles when it ‘talks’ to you. It also tickles you to let you know that there is an incoming call. You talk into its belly and it speaks to you in response, complete with gestures. There is also a LED in its chest that turns blue when in use, and red when in standby mode.

This is actually the mini-version of a previous invention known as the Telenoid R1, a robotic answering machine developed by the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR).

They are hoping that the Elfoid will be put into commercial production within five years, with the addition of image and voice recognition functions.

Personally I think this is a novel concept for a phone. I wonder why did the designers choose such a strange design though. It looks like a limbless torso with a head and I can’t help but wonder why not use something that resembles more a full-bodied doll instead? The featureless face also doesn’t help. This falls into the uncanny valley for me.