We’ve got dozens of dating apps to help us meet people online. Do we really need a device to help us meet people IRL?
Four design students at London’s Royal College of Art believe the answer is yes. That’s why they designed the Ripple, a sparkling, tentacled “accessory that encourages the experience of courtship in daily life.” Basically it’s somewhat awkward — if mesmerizing — contraption that tells you who’s interested in you.
It’s designed for women, and it basically looks like a set of high-tech faerie wings. While it’s striking, it seems like having a dozens of shimmering tentacles resting on your shoulders and rustling around would be more distracting than helpful.
So how does this strange invention actually work? You slide it over your shoulders, and it uses two cameras to sense who’s eyeing you and determine whether they’re interested based on how they look at you.
If it finds someone who’s interested, it sends a ripple — hence the name — up your back. This has the added effect of reminding you to stand up straight “to help you feel more confident.” If you turn and face the person, you’ll get a tap on your chest so you’ll know it’s them and can decide if you’re interested.
If the device detects that you’re attracted to each other, the tentacles move when it’s looked at, which the designers say enhances “the flirty language between two people.” Though it also leaves you having to explain why your wings are dancing. Though that’s probably a better start than “Come here often?”
The device also warms up when you make eye contact with your match, which is meant to “help you feel comfortable.” Though in reality if you’re already blushing or sweating from nervousness, a warm set of tentacles is probably the last thing you need to feel relaxed.
Of course the alternative is to avoid wearing complicated wings that heat up and tell you to stand up straight and instead put your phone in your pocket and look at the people around you.