An example of “reciprocal presence,” the LumiTouch picture frame enables the feeling of closeness, even for those continents apart. Inspired by long-distance relationships, it comes with two linked frames. When one person is near the frame, the background light of the corresponding frame glows. When one user touches the frame, it lights up in the area where the other user touched it. The color shifts in response to how hard and how long you grip the frame.
A similar product is the Like-a-Hug jacket, developed by MIT’s Melissa Chow. This puffy vest inflates every time someone “likes” us on Facebook — whether we post a picture of our babies, a status update about the food we’re currently eating or a political rant.
This, the designer says, allows us “to feel the warmth, encouragement, support or love that we feel when we receive hugs.”
The Like-A-Hug jacket is not for sale — but Rose envisions other examples of this haptic, or touch-based, technology might one day be: a phone that gets heavier as your voice-mail messages pile up, a shoe that nudges your feet to walk in a specific direction or a wallet that gets harder to open once you approach a spending limit.