The Telenoid R1 achieved a new level of creepiness on the Japanese robotic front — quite an achievement given the country’s long history of oddball automated creations. Elfoid takes the cake, though. Developed at Osaka University and with help from NTT DoCoMo, Elfoid looks just like the Telenoid and, indeed, does much the same thing: giving you a human(ish) silhouette to talk to. (video)
This one, though, is designed to be stuffed in your pocket. It’s basically a cellphone shaped like a vaguely human torso and head. You put it in your pocket and it tickles you when it rings. You talk into its belly and it speaks to you in response, playing the voice of whoever’s on the other line through its face. It also moves and gesticulates to make you think that you’re actually holding not Elfoid but that person you’re conversing with. It’s an odd concept, but holding a doll to your head still beats side talkin’ on N-Gage.