Was that girl looking at you on the bus or staring into space? Did that guy glance back after you daydream-bumped into him or was he just angry? This new wearable concept from four RCA Innovation Design Engineering students wants to give budding commuter courtship a nudge with... smart tentacles.
Ripple uses built-in wearable cameras to monitor the people around you and then give you sensory feedback. If it picks up someone looking at you for an extended period, you get a haptic 'ripple' up your back to remind you to correct your posture. Then if you turn to face the person, the smart accessory taps you on the chest to confirm your would-be suitor.
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The feather-like tentacles of the device, made from mesh plastic tubing in one of the prototypes, only move if there is mutual attraction. This seems to mean that both you and the other person are facing each other. Plus the computer vision algorithm has been fed data about attraction and behaviour in social situations from the student's own research.
Its creators call the flirt-enhancing garment a "wearable extension of your body for the future of dating" and says it is in part a response to the trend towards spending time in immersive virtual reality and getting caught up in technology in general. Ripple aims to do this, in part, by reducing the vulnerability that comes with impromptu interactions.
Although, let's face it, 99% of those lingering looks are probably more to do with Ripple itself than the wearer.