[-empyre-] Experience with connecting people via a "hug over a distance"

Hi all,

I've been asked to report a bit on my experience with the "Hug Over a
Distance" vest, developed at Uni of Melb, under the Smart Internet CRC,
together with Frank Vetere, Martin Gibbs, Jesper Kjeldskov, Sonja Pedell
and Steve Howard:

We were aiming to facilitating an increased connectedness between
couples that are geographically apart, and through user observations,
came up with a vest that can give you a hug, triggered by your remote
loved one.
Look at the video:

The compressor used to inflate the air compartments in the vest is
actually from K-mart, used in trucks for their air horns, and is quite
loud, but powerful. The previous compressor I took from an aquarium,
which was silent, but not powerful enough, i.e. the vest took too long
to inflate, that's why I replaced it with the air horn compressor.

I knew the noise would have been an issue, that's why I experiemented
with CO2 cylinders, taken from professional cyclists. However, this
modification wasn't ready for the focus group meetings.

The couples we showed it to loved the idea, and there was quite some
laughing going on.
However, they did not want to take it into their daily lives to test it
out, saying the noise was too weired. 
Although it was mentioned that this was only a prototype, and they
should imagine it without the noise, they still could not abstract from
it, and did not feel comfortable with it.

So as a researcher, I learned that althought it seemed easy to look at
the vest and the hug, and ignore the noise for now, the noise was the
main reason why the couples felt ackward about the experience. Makes
sense now, but at that point, we were more concerned about making sure
the vest looks stylish, because we thought the subjects could abstract
from it, ignoring the noise, but that was what seemed to come up over
and over.
Although the CO2 cylinders were low priority (because they would not
have changed the characteristics of the hug), I should have put more
emphasis on them.

That's my experience with testing it with people,


This archive was generated by a fusion of Pipermail 0.09 (Mailman edition) and MHonArc 2.6.8.