The Bartlett School of Architecture



Christine Würth

YouTube Widget Placeholderhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wv69UxQjuVI

NeoTouch is a speculative design project envisioning the future of haptic technology in the form of a communication device that allows touch at a distance. NeoTouch imagines a fictitious device which is informed by contemporary scientific research. Haptic interaction is here enabled through a brain-computer interface that simulates the experience of touching and being touched by stimulating relevant brain areas. A transducer attaches to the skin behind the ear and connects wirelessly to a network of nano-electronics in the brain. The technology is sited in a near future in which current issues around digital privacy and physical safety coincide and are amplified.

Speculative design is used as a way to explore questions of consent, privacy, intimacy, and the perception of shared realities. Touch is a deeply instinctive and emotive way to interact with another person and NeoTouch focuses on meaningful tactile sensations and haptic impulses to create human-to-human connections. Rooted in speculative explorations, the project interrogates ethical and social aspects of digital communication. Although portraying a future device, NeoTouch is a reflective commentary on effects of digital technologies on our perception of self, identity, and interpersonal interactions. These issues are amplified to a point of concern when imagining a technology that maps digital interactions onto and into the physical body.

Alongside a series of exploratory experiments, film is used as a primary medium to explore social and ethical implications. The short film NeoTouch culminates in is set in a future where the device (also known as NeoTouch) has been accepted widely in society and digital touch has become a normality, integrated into everyday life. As a platform for debate around social and ethical issues and the influence of technology on human interactions, the film portrays what can go wrong when technology and our use of it affects experiences of intimacy and interpersonal boundaries. We need to ask ourselves, what are the social and ethical implications of the future of communication technology?