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A Gadget For Teaching People To Master Body Language

What if you could wear a suit to fix your posture while analyzing the body language of a potential mate?

A Gadget For Teaching People To Master Body Language

Who is really confident about their posture and mannerisms? Beauty queens and the intoxicated. The rest of us trudge through life hoping we aren’t standing like we were in that one picture. Ugh, don’t be nice about it. You know the one.

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RISR is a concept designed by Ludwig Zeller and Kjen Wilkens as part of a government-funded project at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland. Zeller calls it one step more realistic than sci-fi, as the core technologies already exist. It’s essentially a net of sensors you wear on your body that can vibrate like a cellphone to give you posture feedback–much like the MotivePro athletic suit.

“While having spoken to colleagues and friends it became clear, that almost everybody seems to want to improve their appearance and that hardly anybody seems to be really confident about themselves in front of other people,” Zeller tells Co.Design. “So, this is where RISR comes into play, a system that helps you to get the most out of those nasty, competitive situations in private and business life.”

But where RISR ups the ante from a simple posture suit is in its front-facing 3-D IR camera, a sort of Kinect that you wear, aimed at the world around you to analyze the body language of others in real time. “This could allow the RISR to compare your posture to the body language of other people by using heuristical algorithms and a database of known motion patterns,” Zeller explains. The system would then prompt you through haptic cues–a vibrating armpit, maybe–to mirror a friend or potential mate.

Of course, there are other possibilities here, too. Imagine RISR’s potential for, not just singles looking to get lucky or workers about to give a big presentation, but for those with autism spectrum disorders who have a core difficulty with reading people and being interactive with them. It’s not hard to imagine more overt cues, maybe even through a phone’s second screen, that could help teach someone just what kind of effect a conversation was having on someone else.


In all this daydreaming, it becomes easy to forget that RISR hasn’t actually been developed or even prototyped. Yet Zeller, too, is already considering its larger implications for society on whole.

“The question would be at which point we would reach a border that would be awkward to cross: How much computational analysis and correction would we want to accept?” Zeller asks. “Is the benefit it brings worth leaving your struggling personality behind?”

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I’m going with a big “yes” on that one. Seriously. My posture is horrible. You’ve seen that picture.

Read more here.

[Hat tip: Technabob]

An earlier version misspelled the designer’s name. It is Ludwig Zeller, not Zillar.

About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started Philanthroper.com, a simple way to give back every day.

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