PSFK’s Trending Topic: How Design & Tech Can Create More In-Person Interactions

New apps and tech products are trying to bring users back face-to-face.

Recently, technology specifically has gotten a bad rap for making us “antisocial,” with people glued to their phones and other devices instead of focused on forging real relationships. However, we’ve noticed a trend of tech and design pieces that aim to bring us back to each other, from an inflatable suit that facilitates conversations to a dance app that forces users to move together.

Take a look at some of these tech and design pieces below.

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Inflatable Suits That Mediate Arguments

Expanded Discourse, developed by Zoe Padgett and Gerardo Guerrero, is a piece of inflatable clothing that is designed to give the thoughts of the wearer a physical form and the time in which they have to express them. The designers hope the inflatable suit will help people get their thoughts out during meetings and discussions. The suit was created using Arduino, a PC fan, and a microphone audio sensor that lets the suit inflate and deflate. When the wearer wants to speak, he or she inflates the suit using a plastic attachment on the shoulder and as they talk the suit slowly deflates.

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Two-Way Bib Creates Portable Picnic Table

The Napkin Table, created by students at Tunghai University’s school of design, is a small and lightweight portable bib and table device that makes eating outside a convenient and social event. The foldable device has a fabric that fastens around the neck of the users like a bib. It then locks into place and becomes a table. It has cut out holders for cups and pockets for silverware to make sure nothing slides off or falls from the table. The Napkin Table lets users eat outside and get to know their dining partners better.

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Video Chat Connects Senior Citizens With Brazilian English Learners

Ad agency FCB Brasil and CNA language schools partnered together for the “Speaking Exchange” project, where they connect CNA English students from the city of Liberdade in Brazil to retired seniors in the Windsor Park Retirement Community in Chicago. The project provides a solution to two different issues – giving English learners a chance to practice the language with native speakers and providing companionship to the elders in the retirement community. The project uses a video chat program to connect the seniors and the students.

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iPhone Game Forces Two People To Dance

The Bounden app, created by app developer Game Oven, is a mobile game that encourages iPhone users to dance and learn new moves choreographed by the Dutch National Ballet. To play the game, two people have to hold on to the same iPhone and tilt it to access the gyroscope. The two players follow a sphere and a path of rings, and in the process they have to move their arms and bodies like in a dance. The object of the game is to get the rings into the center of the sphere. At the end of the game, players are either entangled with each other or dancing flawlessly.

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