Huggable robot concept delivers warmth, power, and comfort during disasters

Natural disasters can take a heavy toll on life and property, even when we’ve prepared for the worst. Floods, earthquakes, fires, and volcanic eruptions can send people running to evacuation centers where they may be safe but are hardly intact both in the body and especially in the mind. These refuge centers are often only able to provide the bare necessities when it comes to shelter and food, with electric power and heating sometimes taking a lower priority. That’s not even considering the psychological pain that all evacuees experience during these dark times, which often take a backseat because of the state emergency. Of course, all of these are important factors to consider, and this concept for an add but cute robot tries to address them in its own little way to provide both physical and mental comfort to people who have been displaced by these calamities.

Designers: Taejeong Kim, Yeji Jeon

To be fair, such shelters have to focus on what human needs to survive, like food, clothing, and a stable roof over their heads. Electricity often isn’t even viable during natural disasters when power lines are down, but considering how much we rely on electric appliances and devices these days, it has become almost just as critical. Depending on the location and the nature of the disaster, keeping warm is also important, especially if the person is shivering from shock.

POWER HUG is a product design concept that tries to bring some of that on a personal level, just enough power and warmth to bring a little comfort and ease the worries of the person. It is pretty much a big power bank, one with outlets for both USB cables as well as typical power adapters. It also has a built-in warmer to keep the person toasty, especially at night when temperatures tend to drop drastically.

What makes the design notable, however, isn’t just the features but also its form. POWER HUG comes as a cylindrical robot with two soft, bendable tubes that wrap around each end like a wheel. It has a screen in the middle to show the robot’s face and deliver a more humane touch to the design. Unlike what you might expect from robots, however, this one is covered with a thin cushion and soft fabric so that you can wrap yours around it in an embrace. Paired with its heating capability, it can deliver much-needed warmth, comfort, and perhaps even peace to a troubled person.

Considering its use in emergency situations, it’s almost necessary for POWER HUG to be made accessible and sustainable materials. Its batteries can be sourced from unused electric vehicle batteries, while its fabric can be made from recycled materials. It’s definitely an interesting idea, even if the production of such a device might not be practical, as it emphasizes humans’ need for more than just food and shelter to survive a disaster.