I enjoy being a staff writer for 3BL Media/Justmeans on topics - Social Innovation, Social Enterprise and Social Entrepreneurs. When I am not writing for 3BL Media/Justmeans, I wear my other hat as owner of Serendipity PR. Over the years I have worked with high-profile, big, powerful brands and organisations within the public, not-for-profit and corporate sectors; and won awards from my industry...
Technology on Valentines
Happy Valentines! Keeping with the theme of love today here's a story of how technology is enabling people to share a hug across cyberspace through sensory equipment that has been in development for some time. Experts say that one day it will be a part of everyday life and am sure like me you can't wait for that day; where you will be able to reach through your PC, phone device or tablet to give the people you care about a squeeze and show them how much you care, giving technology another dimension...feelings!
Hugs are an important expression of affection and science recognises this with its efforts to create what I call 'cyberhugs'. Adrian Cheok, associate professor at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University developed a system in 2005 that allowed parents and children to share cyberhugs while miles apart, using Teddy bears that were fitted with sensors that detected when they were hugged by the parent and the sensation was then transmitted to the child via a special jacket fitted with heated copper wires. Cheok said publically at the time, "For a while technology has been driving people apart, locking them in front of computer screens, now we hope to use it to bring them together." Unfortunately, Cheok's product did not take off. However, last year Japanese scientists created a similar device called 'iFeel_IM!' which means 'I feel therefore I am'.
The prototype, which looked like a network of connected straps similar to a harness, was designed to add a human-like level of sensation to online conversations and was unveiled in April 2101 by its inventor, Dzmitry Tsetserukou, an assistant professor at Toyohashi University of Technology, and his wife and colleague Alena Neviarouskaya, a researcher at the University of Tokyo.
When connected to a computer, the machine used a series of sensors and motors to mimic a hug along with other sensations such as several types of heart beat, the sensation of having butterflies in one's stomach and a tingling feeling down the spine. Using special technology and software it identified emotions expressed within messages and responded by providing the appropriate physical sensation. Mr Tsetserukou decided not to incorporate sexual arousal into the product because it could compromise his aim of improving emotional connection across the internet.
Thankfully, Mr Tsetserukou predicted it right and the technology is 90 per cent accurate at detecting joy, love, fear, anger and sadness and says, "I am looking to create a deep immersive experience, not just a vibration in your shirt triggered by an SMS. Emotion is what gives communication life. This is really state of the art, there is nothing this accurate. In a few years, this could be a mobile system integrated into a suit or jacket. It's not that far away." So, while we are waiting for this technology to come through download a hug and e-mail it to the person you care about today!
Photo Credit: trulyLovable.com and Myspace Graphics Facebook Icons