Platano, a social wearable
The development of a public wearable device that facilitates Creative Technology community selection and community interaction.
Creative Technology is a bachelor program at the University of Twente of which the curriculum spans across multiple domains. This multidisciplinary aspect of the study programme attracts a diversity of students, which is why openness and social interaction are important values for them. However, several borders are perceived in the Creative Technology community, in particular between national and international students and between the different social groups that make up the Creative Technology community.
Creative Technology students are also early adopters of technology. Wearable technology, an upcoming trend, is bound to a specific user and visible to others around him. This nature of wearable technology can be used to monitor and influence social behaviour. The development of a connected wearable object is therefore a unique opportunity to improve the community interaction of Creative Technology students.
From user interviews, it became clear that the developed wearable must do two things; It should aid the Creative Technology students to select the social groups that are interesting and relevant to them and it should stimulate interaction across different social groups.
The Creative Technology Design Process was used to structure various methods and techniques. Throughout the entire design process, scenario based design provided a usercentred and lightweight approach to involve the project stakeholders in the process of defining the wearables functionality.
While the market for wearable technology underwent extensive growth in the past ten years, all popular wearable technology uses existing social networks and messaging applications for social functionality. The wearable form factor, however, could allow for new, more interesting and more natural interaction models. The developed wearable does this by advertising the social groups its wearer is member of to nearby people. It enables students to interact with each other by inviting others to their groups and accepting group invitations.
The final prototype is a customizable bracelet with a minimalistic design that is unobtrusive to its wearer. The bracelet has an LED, used to advertise different groups, and a button, used to invite or accept group invitations. The bracelet connects to the userís smartphone, for which an application is written. This application communicates through the internet with a dedicated server application that shares data with other usersí wearables.
The final prototype has some shortcomings in its functionality, design and implementation. Most notably, the prospective users would only wear the bracelet for a limited period of time because its functionality is not elaborate enough. However, the extensive prototype of the designed wearable meets requirements set in the design process and proves the potential of wearable technology to influence social interaction.
There are a multitude of opportunities to improve upon the final design in both the functionality and design of the final product. It is possible that these improvements will make the social wearable a popular product for more markets than just Creative Technology students.