Although social media helps us connect with more people in a highly efficient way, the act is still far from real human interaction. We share posts, upload photos or post status updates, looking frantically at our screens for likes, shares or comments. A group of students at the MIT Media Lab, named Fluid Interfaces Group, is working on an electronic textile that might help us interact with people based on our social media profiles.
With the intent "to design and develop interfaces that are a more natural extension of our minds, bodies and behavior", the team is working on a project named Social Textiles. The technology depends on a smartphone app, thermochromatic ink and haptics to create a seamless experience of interaction with people.
The Social Textile is connected to the app via Bluetooth. After putting on the T-shirt and going outside, you get a gentle "haptic" tap on your shoulder if there is anyone else with the Social Textile on. This is a signal by a computer chip for you to look around. When you locate the person, you greet them with a handshake or a high five. The skin contact creates a small electric charge, which will activate the thermochromatic ink on your T-shirts. If you have any interests in common, the ink will spell it out for you. This means that you can avoid the awkward talk about weather conditions and get right into your common interests.
You can check the video below for more explanation on how the system works.