EnhancedTouchX ─ A Smart Bracelet that Augments Interpersonal Hand-to-Hand Touch Interactions
Interpersonal touch- shaking hands, holding hands, high-fives, hugging, or a simple shoulder squeeze, are personal acts of nonverbal communication that can have significant impacts in our lives. A recent study, known as “The Midas Touch Effect,” found that restaurant servers who were instructed to touch their customers while returning their change garnered higher tips, as opposed to those who did not contact them. Engineers from the University of Tsukuba looked at quantitatively measuring interpersonal touch interactions in daily life, in an effort to analyze and facilitate the effect on social interactions.
To help them with their study, the engineers designed the EnhancedTouchX — a smart bracelet network device that detects and monitors touch interactions, as well as logs personal data parameters such as who, where, when, how long, and how the touch actions occurred. The bracelet’s design is based on body area network (BAN) or in this case interpersonal hand area network technology, meaning its part of a wireless network of wearable computing devices.
The engineers designed the EnhancedTouchX smart bracelet using an NXP LPC1549 Arm Cortex-M3 microcontroller, an MMA8653FC 3-axis accelerometer, a BLE module, and a 3.7V/110mAh LiPoly battery, all housed on a PCB with a pair of electrodes. The build is enclosed in a 3D-printed case that’s attached to a Velcro wristband.
The bracelet functions by using the sensor to acquire motion values taken through an integrated circuit (I2C) protocol, which provides the identification and direction of a touch. To identify the gestures of a touch, the bracelet measures the received signal intensity indication taken from the impedance measured between the electrodes and the skin, and between the hands. Of course, the EnhancedTouchX only works if the user touches someone else wearing the bracelet as well. A full rundown of how the engineers designed the BTX can be found in their recently released paper.