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The potential of haptic feedback during social distancing

By May 25, 2020 June 18th, 2020 No Comments

Elitac Wearables featured in popular science TV programme

How can we deal with the lack of touch in these times of social distancing? That is the focus of an upcoming documentary by Dutch programme makers ‘De kennis van nu’ (Present day knowledge).

Social distancing effects

The benefits of social distancing to slow down the spread of the COVID-19 virus are clear, but it also means people are touching each other less and less. Easily solved if we can all go back to our old ways soon, but it may cause serious health issues if these social rules become the new norm: Various studies have indicated that touch is extremely important to both our mental and physical well-being.

Haptic feedback options

To find out what possibilities haptic feedback offers now and in the future, the documentary makers spoke with Elitac Wearables CEO and co-founder Merijn Klarenbeek. “It’s already possible to mimic touch through the use of vibration motors integrated within textiles, we have developed several products that use this technology. And looking to the future, there are some exciting developments ahead. For example, we are involved in the EU-funded Project WEAFING, which seeks to create a new variety of haptic sensation, through ‘textile muscles’ that can apply soft pressure or a stroke instead of vibration. It’s still early days for this technology, but it’s great to be part of this kind of research that pushes the boundaries of science”.

Receiving a hug from your clothes

To feel what it is like to receive a friendly touch from a distance, presenter Dirk de Bekker then tried on our OPSskin Shirt, which we had programmed to give him a gentle hug. He liked it so much he asked to take one home with him!

You can catch the full programme on NPO2 on 27 May, 22.15 (Dutch-language only, unfortunately).

View a selection of our projects that integrate textiles and haptic feedback here.