Project title: Social Un-distancing
Members: Ellie HUANG, Nooshin MOHTASHAMI
This project stems from series of discussion derived from us entering the post-Covid period. During the global pandemic, we are gradually getting used to avoiding physical contact and being increasingly reluctant to step out of our safe distance. While this self-isolation becomes a norm and psychological issues like depression starts to raise significantly emerging from this kind of state, we oftentimes forget about the intrinsic value of social interactions and its significance to us as human beings.
We want to create a social un-distancing reminder which encourages people to make more contacts with fellow humans, and emphasize on the amount of joy and energy we could actually receive from these communications.
This piece of wearable is a pocket light indicator attached to any part of clothing and on the other end connected to a glove. It could be interpreted as an energy reservoir. The way it works is with 10 Neopixels on the board, it invites people to make contact with others by lighting up the Neopixels into red. If within a certain amount of time (currently 5 secs for demonstration purpose) the glove has not being touched anyone else, the red Neopixels will de-color into purple. With a similar gap of time that the glove is not being touched, the Neopixels gradually becomes yellow and then off. However, if within the whole range a next person has been in contact with the wearer, a next Neopixels will be light up into red, indicating another gained energy point. Within full Neopixels being activated, the wearable will blink with a smily face with a piece of joyous music to indicate the completeness of today’s mission of getting in touch with x number of people.
For real life usage, this piece of wearable could be programmed into customizable system that wearer would be able to adjust the total amount of people they want to interact with in a day (set a target number of Neopixels) and the cool off time (e.g. 30 minutes for one degree de-coloring).
- Adafruit Circuit Playground express
- Conductive thread
- Conductive fabric
- Connection wires
- Power bank and USB cord
According to a longitudinal analysis of the COVID-19 Social Study published on Psychological medicine, the inter-relationship between social contact and depression is closely examined “People who were usually more sociable or had higher empathy had more depressive symptoms during enforced reduced contact”(Sommerlad,2021). The result implicated our potential future pandemic actions and the relationship between social factors and mental health.
With technical advances, we would like to create a piece of wearable that nudges users to re-initiate social interactions. Many emerging technologies are enabling individuals to self-manage and to integrate myriad forms of help and support. Currently, there are already numerous products on the consumer markets that could intake full body feedback and output with visual information. For our project, we wanted to create a device that could be rapidly prototyped and enable users in a similar powerful fashion.
One of the projects that was a great inspiration for our work is The Emotional Clothing collection, which was Węglińska’s doctoral dissertation at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow. This project is designed to broaden the experience of clothing and extend fashion vocabulary. Węglińska’s garments react to the wearer’s heart rate, temperature and Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) via sensors, which in turn trigger light changes. Via information gathered from sensors attached to the wearer’s fingers, lights change according to the beat of the wearer’s heart at the sides of the top flash. Since stress usually causes a rise in temperature and a faster heartbeat, this collection of garments output the inner feeling of the users.
Another project working along a similar line is Halo, which is a networked clothing that each garment has its own microcontroller and light panel. Individual units are able to receive rhythm input from the parent unit with serial and infrared receivers. Thus, one Halo can interact with other Halos and create dynamic visual patterns using this interactivity. In addition to networked interaction, users can provide real-time input for Halo and alter its visual patterns. The emotions can be converted into unique visual statements.
Both two projects incorporate the elements of light and wearable technologies. The visualization of light effects and alterations are both tied with emotions and inner feelings of the users. For the Halo project, users wearing the garment have the active control of altering rendered effects, which provides incentive for users to make actions. This interactivity was also replicated into our project of allowing users to be incentivized of their action choices and be informed with the visual outcomes.
Some other references we have looked at include smaller projects from the adafruit forum: Heart Rate Badge(https://learn.adafruit.com/heart-rate-badge), Circuit Playground Wearable(https://learn.adafruit.com/circuit-playground-wearable), Chatty Light-Up Circuit Playground Express Mask(https://learn.adafruit.com/chatty-light-up-cpx-mask). These projects greatly informed us in diverse ways about modes of fabrication and material choices. In constructing our wearable pieces, we have experimented with different formats of physical containers for the Adafruit Playground. From one of the above sources – Circuit Playground Wearable, we referenced their 3D printing models and tested them as one of our design iterations. Despite not taking the watch format as our final rendering, we have enhanced our proficiency via those trials and errors.
For real life applications, we would love to enhance the customizability of this wearable piece. Users would be able to extend the time of cooling down accordingly. The program could further be enhanced by allowing the users to input their ideal number of interactions in a day, thus people who are more introverted do not need to meet a high goal set for extrovert people. For future development, this wearable could be better integrated into the whole piece of garment with minimal visibility – aligning with principles of calm technology.
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- Sommerlad, Andrew, et al. “Social Relationships and Depression during the COVID-19 Lockdown: Longitudinal Analysis of the COVID-19 Social Study.” Psychological Medicine, 2021, pp. 1–10., doi:10.1017/S0033291721000039.