Today’s Solutions: December 03, 2021

One thing a phone or video call can’t make up for is the physical feeling of touch that comes with being close to someone. In an experimental attempt to bring physical sensations into phone calls, two students at the Royal College of Art in London have designed a pair of devices that translate the user’s speech into a series of simple haptic patterns you can feel based on their intonation and volume.

Innovation design engineering students Hoonjan and Zhang created the devices to connect people who have been physically separated as a result of situations such as the coronavirus lockdown in a “more intimate” way. Two attachments, a brush-style blue silicone feeler and a piece of silicone shaped like a tongue, produce different sensations. They have named the device Feel the Conversation.

The up and down movement made by the silicone attachments is a more exaggerated version of a smartphone’s vibration function, explained the designers. The feelers create a massaging effect that’s “both pleasant yet exciting” when held to the user’s ear. Hoonjan and Zhang designed the additional silicone tongue to offer something more recognizably human.

“A friend told me, ‘people are missing the feeling of touch, I can’t lean into the zoom window, or my phone to actually feel like I’m close to them’,” Hoonjan told Dezeen, the design magazine. “In conversation with colleagues, I found there is an increase in ‘skin hunger’, which is a real issue for mental health, as we are social creatures, and touch is a big part of that,” the designer continued.

While Feel the Conversation was designed before the coronavirus outbreak, Hoonjan and Zhang have received multiple requests to produce more of the phones due to the distancing measures that have been put in place as a result of the pandemic.

The world may seem a bit strange now that we’re now looking at phones with physical feelings as a solution, but then again, wouldn’t it be fun to add another dimension to phone calls?

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

Rwanda’s mountain gorillas represent a successful conservation story

Following years of poaching and habitat destruction, the population of mountain gorillas in Rwanda once numbered under 260 individuals. Now, Rwandan gorillas represent a rare conservation success and a key economic engine for the East ... Read More

Germany plans to put 15 million electric vehicles on its roads by 2030

Making electric cars the dominant vehicles on the road is key to curbing planet-warming emissions and protecting the climate. In a bid to reach that goal, an increasing number of countries and cities across the ... Read More

Here are 5 Indigenous-led eco-charities you can support today

The climate crisis has caused us to reconsider our consumerist lifestyles and turn to Indigenous peoples to learn from their superior understanding of living in harmony with nature. Here is a list of five organizations ... Read More

Scientists discover a peculiar new planet

Deep into the Hercules constellation, 855 light-years away from Earth, lies a record breaking exoplanet. This newly discovered gas giant was named TOI-2109b, and the thing that makes it so special is the fact it ... Read More

High altitude experiment shows that snow monkeys are excellent at fishing

Snow monkeys, also known as the Japanese macaque, are native to many of the main islands of Japan. These fluffy creatures are the most northern-based non-human primate out there, meaning they have some cold temperatures ... Read More