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Advancements in communication technology have made vast improvements when it comes to maintaining long distance relationships. From sending letters, making phone calls, texting, to video chatting, our methods of communication have become a lot easier, faster, and more personal, but what comes after screens and skype? Virtual touch. Physical touch from a partner releases oxytocin in the brain, helping to form a stronger bond within the relationship. The HugShirt was invented by Francesca Rosella and Ryan Genz the co-founders of CuteCircuit, and was named one of 2006's best inventions of the year by Time Magazine. Sensors are embedded in the shirt, and can sense strength, duration, location of touch, skin warmth, and even the heartbeat rate of the sender. Along with these sensors, are actuators, which recreate the sensation of the touch and warmth of the hug that was "sent" to you. The fact that we can instantly communicate with someone across the globe is incredible already, but to be able to add the sensation of physical touch to that, would be close to magic.
global- globally, this technological advancement may encourage more people to travel for business, or just travel for longer periods of time. It might increase productivity if they know that they can still hug their loved ones goodnight, even while doing business in a different timezone.
national- I could see this product, or another virtual touch product, being distributed among Americans enlisted in the military, and their families. Long distance relationships can become a huge part of their lives, so a product like this could get a lot of use and appreciation from them.
local/personal- Being in a long distance relationship and knowing their hardships, I would definitely be open to trying something like the HugShirt. It seems cheesy and a little weird, but it'd be really interesting to experience!
2 months- continuing to work on and test the product for it to become readily available to the public
20 years- expanding from products like the HugShirt into technology that uses a combination of virtual touch and holograms, getting even closer to face to face contact without being in the same space
positive- increase of travel for business, more successful long distance relationships, and generally better mental health for people experiencing LDRs
negative- people may feel abandoned if a loved one chooses to start traveling more due to new technology, and there could be potential health issues when it comes to wearing technology (cancer)
REGION OF THE FUTURE:
social tech/human tech/bio tech
QUESTIONS FOR THE CLASS:
- would you have any interest in purchasing something like the HugShirt?
- how do you feel about the look of the HugShirt?
- would you feel weird using one in public? or do you think that they would become something that people get used to seeing? (ex. selfie sticks, people taking weird snapchats, etc.)