The Tactilu bracelet, which allows ‘touch’ to be sent over long-distances via a wireless connection, was unveiled at the Polish Job exhibition in Milan. It was created by panGenerator, a new media design and art group composed of Piotr Barszczewski, Krzysztof Cybulski, Krzysztof Goliński, and Jakub Koźniewski.
The device consists of two parts: a sensor and a component based on ‘artificial muscle’ technology which reproduces the tactile impressions transmitted by another person. The Tactilu of the sender is connected via bluetooth or the internet with the mobile phone of the partner, which activates his/her bracelet and transmits the touch. This device is panGenerator's response to the neglect of the sense of touch in social processes and new technologies that focus solely on forms of audiovisual media.
TACTILU - a bracelet for remote tactile communication ( work in progress ) from ◥ panGenerator on Vimeo.
Jakub Koźniewski explains that work on the Tactilu bracelet project was halted in the prototype phase:
It was a concept and we haven't developed it any further. We've just shown how the second version of it could potentially look. The project was brought to an end in the phase of testing its technical, design, and above all, communication concepts. We were interested in how this type of new media would be received by people. I treat this project as a demonstration of a speculative design devised in order to probe the future by means of the objects people can interact with, and to test people's reactions to and perceptions of the various problems that those objects may cause. And that can be done efficiently only on the condition that we present and try something out, and not by leaving it in the sphere of the imagination.
Koźniewski noted that the project was met with great interest among people for whom Tactilu is just a gadget, as well as those who wish to use it to communicate with a loved one with a disability. Since the public presentation of the bracelet, a number of similar projects have been devised. However, they are based on a simple system of vibration, and no one has approached the subject of touch in the same as way as panGenerator.
Tactilu is unlikely to be found in shops. In its current form, it would be too expensive to produce. Jakub Koźniewski also doubts whether, in the long run, the bracelet would draw a lot of attention as it is a device for occasional use. As he says, it is more likely that it will be used as one of the functions of a smartwatch.
Read more about POLISH JOB in Milan.
Author: Katarzyna Zacharska, May 2014, trans. GS, 12.06.2014