In Peter Hamilton’s “Void” series, a large part of humanity is connected through an emotional transference conductive field called the gaiafield. It’s a technologically enabled emotional Internet where people with gaiamote transplants in their bodies broadcast and receive emotions. A recent report on NPR suggests that we may have taken the first step at developing a primitive version of the gaiafield.
The report covers the development of interactive clothes by Barbara Layne of Concordia University and Janis Jeffries of the University of London. The clothes are called “Wearable Absence” and contain biosensors that monitor a number of bodily factors including temperature, heart rate and breathing. They continually transmit this information to a central database. If the wearer experiences an emotion with a distinct physical signature, say agitation, calming messages from a loved one are transmitted from the database to speakers embedded in the clothes. They may also project images or video on a woven-in LED display.
There are, of course, systems now that monitor bodily functions and independently contact someone if they change in a dramatic way. These are most commonly used with the elderly or infirmed who live alone. This development though is more engaging as it takes active steps to determine mood, not health, based on biometric factors and then actively affect that mood.
How much farther is it to Wearable Absence 2.0 where ones clothes communicate mood directly to the clothes of a loved one (or other interested party)? With some theoretical modifications, the clothes could affect the biometrics of the wearer. Strategically placed heat elements, similar to those found in heated gloves and socks, could be added to match each person’s temperature. Add in resistors to cause the clothing to constrict on command and heartbeat and breathing patterns could be felt. Go one step farther and marry a future version of the brain interface and one could think about giving a reassuring hug and their clothes could transmit the pressure and warmth.
While this would not be the similarly theorized full body sensor suits of future-porn lore, it would be an effective way of knowing how a connected someone is physically feeling without the need for head-to-toe latex and its associated problems. It could herald the end of “I was just thinking about you” calls as each person would “know” it in a whole new experiential way.