Ripple is a wearable extension of your body for the future of dating, which calculates who in a room is attracted to you. When it finds someone, it gives you sensorial feedback, reflecting the excitement you feel when meeting someone special. If the attraction is mutual then its tentacles will move in reaction to their gaze, amplifying the language of seduction between the two people.
Unsatisfied that the world was moving towards a future immersed in virtual reality, and believing that this may lead to difficulties in communicating in real life, we embarked on an experimental design journey to encourage people to interact in real life. By concentrating on reducing the vulnerability of first interactions we came up with Ripple.
Currently Ripple exists as two 'looks like' and 'works like' prototypes with the first 'looks like’ base structure being manufactured using SLA 3D printed parts and tentacles made from laser cut printed acetate film, and the second base structure manufactured from bent wire, with the tentacles mesh plastic tubing with a coloured plastic inserts.
Ripple uses computer vision to determine interest, building upon our own intuition. Ripple classifies attraction based on our own experimental findings, from monitoring and experimenting on people's behaviour in various new social situations.
Ripple was the result of a rigorous experimental journey and began from realising that people are retreating to digital realities because real life often makes them feel vulnerable. Using this as our starting point we set out to answer a number of questions:
1. What makes people feel vulnerable?
2. How can we make people feel more comfortable when closer to strangers?
3. Can we improve communication between two people by enhancing current channels of communication?
4. Can we add new channels of communication to enhance the experience of physical interactions?
At this point we observed that there is a strong trend of people retreating into the digital world in a romantic context. More now than ever people are resorting to the digital world to find love, we used this extreme senario to add context to our next experiments which focused on creating new interactions which enhance the physical world.
We found a set of experiments particularly interesting which revolved around how you might use technology to find out who is attracted to you. We continued to work on this strand by developing software which used computer vision to monitor how everyone in a room was looking at you, and to work out if someone was attracted to you. This was accomplished by mounting wearable cameras on the person which monitored in real time your surroundings in 360 degrees.
We now worked on how the interaction between two people should unfold when a computer has predicted that they are attracted to each other.
We constructed our final experiment to enhance and improve a number of things,
- The excitement of knowing that someone is attracted to you
- Your confidence to approach someone
- The nerves when you first make eye contact
We did this by giving the user; vibrations to simulate a shiver up your spine, heat to make comfortable and pulling your shoulders back to improve your confidence.
For our final experiment we took our experimental prototype to bars and cafes to see how people would use the technology and react to the feedback. Our final experiment drew on all of our previous experiments and was designed to let us know what could be done next. Technology will always continue to improve and become more accessible, making components smaller and more powerful, allowing us to develop and improve our courtship experience. At this point, Ripple is an experimental prototype that still has a lot of scope for development, but we believe we have proved that the experimental foundation of our concept is robust, and we hope that through Ripple you will have the opportunity to experience being present in our physical world like never before.
In collaboration with: Huishan Ma, Maria Apud Bell, Lyle Baumgarten