Wearable Tech World Feature Article
November 14, 2014

Wearable Tech for More Intimate Long Distance Relationships

Most of us who are in a relationship with someone we feel is our ‘other half’ can understand the desire to be close to them at all times. Regardless of busy work schedules or the need to travel and be away from our partners – there is the always wanting to check-in and confirm the bond.  It’s nothing new. For many, many years lovers have shared letters – which became emails and now texts – to keep in-touch and announce, “I love you.”

But having this immediate, constant connection with mobile devices has even had a negative effect on relationships.

Study findings released by the University of Essex actually uncovered the ways cell phones are starting to hurt personal relationships. From losing eye contact, to no longer using our voice to communicate and even as far as picking a device over having intimacy with loved ones. 

Texting and video sessions have become important for long distance relationships and partners who travel. These technologies allow people to have immediate contact, in real-time. But a barrage of those communications, especially when they are happening while at a meeting or trying to get work done, can also become a nuisance.

Keeping this in mind, and with a goal to advance emotions through wearable technologies, Headtalk, a Techstars Boston start-up, recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund production of a wearable smart jewelry device it calls, “Magnet.”

The stone shaped device is being pitched as a way to express intimate emotions in the 21st century and raised over $11k in just its first 48 hours on Kickstarter.

How Magnet works is it connects with a user’s smartphone through Bluetooth and has a vibration motor and LEDs that make its glow.  Users need only tap their Magnet device when they want to share an intimate moment with their significant other and their partner’s device will vibrate and light up with the same tapping pattern that was entered.  So its non-verbal emotion that’s still intimate and not disruptive.

I recently caught up with co-founders Alexander List and Harish Kamath to find out a little more about the device and its other possible uses.

Kamath explained how the device developed from a simple bracelet with lights to being designed to activate remotely and used over a distance.

While it started out as something that would allow people to just communicate with others in a new way – from their wrist – they uncovered that an emotional and intimate connection with people was the main use for the bracelet. So they went back to the drawing board and focused on refining Magnet to become almost like a sixth sense of the person on the other side that was tapping it.

According to Kamath, it was more about an emotional connection for users than it was about communicating.

And while couples are the main target market and the biggest group so far based on feedback on their early backers, there are other users.

For example, there is a demand from parents who cannot be there for their kids all the time. They could use the bracelet to still feel close to a distant parent.

There are also cases when veterans or active service people would like to feel closer with their loved ones and have to be away from home. Magnet allows them to still feel a connection.

People with disabilities – like the deaf or for the blind can also used the lights or feel the vibrations to get a sense of contextual emotion through the device.

“While your phone, computer and smartphone connect you to the whole world, we created a device designed to do just one thing: Connect you to one person you love,” said List.  “We believe it’s something people are starving for.”




Edited by Maurice Nagle




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