Technology Tuesday: How Do You Communicate?

Communication is key to every field of study.  Weather it be the ever popular email, picking up the phone and calling, perhaps fax or hand written letters are more your style.  Everyone communicates.  But the question driving this edition of Technology Tuesday is not only by what means we communicate with, but how we relate ourselves to eachother and the world around us also.

Kate Hartman, Professor of Wearable and Mobile Technology at the Ontario College of Art and Design, uses simple, open-source technology to build objects and do-it-yourself kits, such as her Muttering Hat, Talk To Yourself Hat, the Inflatable Heart, or Glacier Embracing Suit — that allow for new modes of expression and communication.

She is the co-creator of Botanicalls, a system for letting plants tweet and call their owners when they need watering, or more sunlight.  Hartman and her work raise key questions about how we communicate with our environment, and with ourselves in a TED Talk.

Hartman says we should view our body as our interaction with the world.  Without one, there would be no interaction.  In order to help interact with the world, Hartman uses a wide assortment of house hold objects to create hats and suits to help better interact with ourselves, the ones around us, and the world.

For instance, with the Muttering Hat, it pulls noises out to share with everyone else.  So when you have one of those days when you wish you could share everything you hear with someone else, the Muttering Hat would be your hat.  The discommunicator is a cylindrical item filled with soft material to absorb loud noises.  It allows for intense conversations with distance.

One of the more intense communication suits Hartman has developed is the Glacier Embracing Suit.  As Hartman said, “When I meet a glacier for the very first time, what do I do? There’s no kind of social protocol for this.”  And if you think about it, she is absolutely right.  How would you greet a glacier if given the opportunity?  Most would just walk all over it, take pictures, and carry on with their journey.  Email and phones won’t exactly get your message to a glacier or vice versa.  The Glacier Embracing Suit forces your body to shift it’s physical position so that you are laying down and essentially giving the glacier a hug.

Along with body interaction, Hartman has also developed a device to allow house plants to interact with us humans.  When they are thirsty for sun or water a message can be sent to your phone.

Don’t believe me in what I have described so far?  Check out her TED talk and let me know if you think any of these devices would alter the effectivity of your communication.

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