We get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life that we rarely stop and smell the roses. When you add in the fact that we are all glued to our smartphones, making new relationships or even starting a conversation with someone is far from our minds. This shift in our social behavior is what inspired designers from Innovation Design Engineering, together with the Imperial College London and The Royal College of Art, to develop Ripple – a stimulating and interactive gizmo with tentacles that looks like something straight out of an alien horror movie.
The Future of Dating
The team developed two prototypes for the Ripple that drew inspiration from sea slugs: Coryphella Polaris and Cuthona Sibogae. The first is made from 3D printed parts using SLA technology, with tentacles from laser-cut acetate film. The second includes bent wires and mesh plastic tubing with colored plastic inserts.The Ripple has two cameras which act like feelers and scan the area around the person wearing it. Depending on the way people are looking at you, the computer inside can notice when someone gazes at you with interest. In such cases, the tentacles will move in the direction of that person and you will feel a ripple along your back. When your face meets theirs, the device taps your chest, and warms up when you are making eye-contact. These features all combine to provide useful hints and stimulate an interaction.
Hacking the Secret to Emotions
Before the Ripple, there were other projects dedicated to improving real life communication. For example, Huishan Ma researched the differences in how we express emotions and developed a necklace that scans a person and transfers it to an earphone, which translates the facial language. Still, making a computer that is capable of understanding whether someone is attracted to you is really quite amazing, especially when you consider that even humans don’t always decode emotions correctly.
“Our final experiment drew on all of our previous experiments and was designed to let us know what could be done next”, says one of the Ripple designers, Jonathan Rankin. “At this point, Ripple is an experimental prototype that still has a lot of scope for development.”
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