Microsoft has been working on some interesting projects lately including the recently unveiled HoloLens which allows users to virtually interact with 3D objects by using their hands and eye movement.
Today we learn that Microsoft Research division has been working on something called SWARM which stands for Sensing Whether Affect Requires Mediation. This is in fact a Smart Scarf which senses the wearers’ (and others’ nearby) emotions through various on-board sensors and reacts by heating, vibrating and audio actuations in an effort to enhance the wearer’s emotions and improves alertness to their surroundings.
Microsoft believes this type of device is particularly useful for people with disabilities and for those with vision and hearing impairments who “may not receive important visual or verbal cues of others’ emotions. Thus, universal design (making the device inherently accessible for many types of users) was central to our project.”
The prototype, demonstrated at the Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction at Stanford University is made of many canvas modules – some are vibrating plates and others are conductive copper taffeta that heat up and send signals to a master controller module in the scarf which then communicates via Bluetooth.
Although this gadget is in very early conceptual and prototype stage, it’s rather interesting to see how technology can be used in every-day applications to enhance our lives.
Microsoft Research describes SWARM as:
“..a wearable affective technology designed to help a user to reflect on their own emotional state, modify their affect, and interpret the emotional states of others. SWARM aims for a universal design (inclusive of people with various disabilities), with a focus on modular actuation components to accommodate users’ sensory capabilities and preferences, and a scarf form-factor meant to reduce the stigma of accessible technologies through a fashionable embodiment. Using an iterative, user-centered approach, we present SWARM’s design. Additionally, we contribute findings for communicating emotions through technology actuations, wearable design techniques (including a modular soft circuit design technique that fuses conductive fabric with actuation components), and universal design considerations for wearable technology.”
Source: Microsoft Reearch