Users can connect not only virtually but also physically
The device, called the Poking Machine, is made up of a custom-designed box that receives a signal from an Android phone that is connected to Facebook. If you are logged in to your account and you poke your friend who is wearing the box, the device releases a small lever into the wearer.
“The Poking Machine is a wearable device that pokes you physically whenever you are poked on Facebook, no matter where you are,” Van Loen says.
“Online social networks are platforms for communication, enabling us to connect anywhere we go. However, they still lack the mediation of physical communication. Facebook tries to improve this by enabling its users to ‘poke’ each other, which basically only sends another written message to the person you poke, without conveying the original intent of the poking gesture.
“The Poking machine converts the message into an actual physical poke, extending the reach of this haptic gesture indefinitely. This way users can connect not only virtually but also physically.
“The set-up consists of a custom built circuit (ATtiny, servo, battery, and bluetooth module) that connects to an Android phone, letting it keep track of incoming pokes. The circuit is housed in a laser-cut box you can wear on your arm.”
The idea behind the project is to challenge our social media habits, and see how they could be re-purposed in the real world as an actual human experience. The designers are keen to ask questions of our burgeoning relationship with Facebook and other social networking portals, for them it is important we all remember to interact offline as well.