My animation project in Media Lab involves a couple that dances together from opposite sides of the globe via robotic surrogates. Social dancers communicate lead and follow through momentum of the torso. Argentine tango’s lead and follow can be very subtle; a slight motion of the lead’s torso can send the follow’s leg in a dramatic arc.
I would like to develop a concept that would transmit this communication through motion impulses generated in clothing, instead of an external robot. Such a system could be valuable in the context of emotional communication over distance beyond text/audio/video.
Draper, with MIT, is developing a space suit that uses flywheels to simulate gravity. I think that the electronic component of a dance system could be a simplified version of this.
Matti Niinimäki in SOPI research group made a glove with haptic feedback. His findings could be the base of our system.
There are artistic as well as practical potentials for such a system. A group of dancers could be lead by one dancer (or remote control box, for “human puppetry”). Or each dancer could be transmitting lead to the next one, depending on how the communication channels are set up. This could create some interesting feedback loops of human motion.
One practical use could be a haptic navigation system that gives directions with physical nudges in the correct direction.