If you ask an engineer about the future of communications, he’ll probably show you a fiber-optic cable. If you ask the same question to an artist, he or she will produce something like the sleeve.
A revolutionary technology for communication is taking place at the Nokia Bell Labs in New Jersey. Engineers at this renowned research facility where the birth of transistor took place, have been working for the past year to develop a wearable armband called the “Sleeve” that can communicate emotion through touch.
“We’re reductionist in our thinking; artists are divergent,” says Domhnaill Hernon. Hernon leads a program called Experiments in Art and Technology. The program was actually founded in the 1960s, but newly revived in collaboration with the design firm New Inc.
The program pairs up scientists and artists to investigate big questions about right-brain versus left-brain issues, such as: What’ will the successor to smartphones look like? Or Can humans communicated through touch?
The “Sleeve” tries to answer the latter question. According to Wired, the device is designed to collect data on the user’s emotional and physical state through gyroscopes, optical sensors, and accelerometers, then communicate that information via vibrational jolts, and messages displayed on the screen.
The scientists aim to inspire more engineers to consider the emotional plane, which they believe will soon enable us to express our heart through our sleeves.
Here’s how the Sleeve works:
- Haptic motors
These motors produce haptic pulses or vibrational jolts that allow the wearer to receive environmental feedbacks from messages received by users.
- Electromyography wires
This is an advanced alternative to tapping and swiping; these wires can measure subtle electrical signals in your forearm muscles and then sends messages through the Sleeve.
- Inertial measurement unit
Accelerometers and gyroscopes identify directional movement. The Sleeve could control smart home devices with gestures.
- Optical coherence tomography disc
This device tries to determine the body’s chemical makeup by measuring how light interacts with tissues. It can recognize biomarkers for stress and happiness.
A dot matrix LED screen emits messages, biological signals, and directions, providing more productive communication between users.