Are you feeling ticklish?

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Well? Are you?

Should humans and robots bunk up together? Are these intimate relationships even possible? That’s what HUMANS NEED NOT APPLY exhibit Tickle Salon attempts to discuss.

Is there a line drawn in the sand for what areas of life robotics can conquer, and have we crossed it? These are just some of the questions raised by visitors upon viewing this intimate robot.

Allow me to paint you a picture of a typical Tickle Salon session — a willing participant removes their shirt, and lies flat on the bed as if waiting for a massage. The robot is activated, and its ceiling-high threads move to lower the tassels towards the visitor's body, all accompanied with a sound reminiscent of a claw-machine found in childhood arcade... then — contact!

The tassels now slowly move across the body, both examining and caressing. Some find this ticklish, others sensual. This experience can last from ten to twelve minutes. Some visitors cry with delight when told this, as they’re in it for the long haul! As the session comes to a close, the claw machine noise sounds again; your moment with the stroking bot is over. “Well, how was it?” we ask. And this is when the fun begins.

Our visitors had so many mixed reactions to Tickle Salon — from outright hating the experience to wanting one for their own home! We took it upon ourselves to document visitors’ reactions in a very #dataisbeautiful kind of way...

Pretty mixed bag, right? Wait until you see the male to female user ratio!

The month of March had more males partaking in Tickle Salon than females, at 64% of the total usage versus female usage of 36%.

For the month of April, male usage increased (72%) while female usage decreased (28%).

May was the quietest and shortest month, with HUMANS NEED NOT APPLY ending on 21st May. Male usage of the exhibit was still greater than female usage.

The final tally for Tickle Salon usage, with a total usage of 316 people, 215 males and 101 females. From this data set, males held a majority usage throughout the exhibition.

There you have it! From our data collection, males seem to want to explore intimate robot relationships more than female visitors — or maybe women didn’t want to take their shirts off! We also found from our research that Wednesdays and Fridays were the most popular days for tickling, and the least popular day was Saturday  —  and Tickle Salon was so popular with two of our users that they came back a second time.

So are robots here to replace our intimate relationships? Who knows! Some of our visitors state they would love for something like this to exist in the future, while other outright oppose the idea. For now, though, let's just have it as a speculative idea….

Ryan J. Coyne is one of the lead mediators at HUMANS NEED NOT APPLY. You can follow him on Twitter here or read more of his work here.