Students from MIT are trying to create their own social network that relies less on virtual life and more on your personal connections. Social Textiles is way for people to connect using tshirts that alert through haptic vibrations and visual cues when you meet other people face to face with similar interests. The shirts are printed with thermochromatic ink letters like a word find game, wired up with thin flexible circuitry and then connected via bluetooth to your phone and the corresponding app. Meet a new friend that likes jazz, and both of your shirts will electrify the corresponding letters that read JAZZ. Sure there’s still some fashion to improve upon, but these would be perfect for Freshman orientation.

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Social Textiles was created by Viirj Kan, Katsuya Fujii, Judith Amores, Chang Long Zhu Jin, and Pattie Maes – a group of MIT students in the Tangible Media Group and Fluid Interface Group. These students set out to create a social network that felt more personal and could be used to connect people in person. The simple white shirts feature integrated electronics that power a grid of thermochromatic letters. When electricity is sent to the letters, they ‘turn on’ so you can see them. Haptic feedback capabilities allow the network to buzz the wearer at the neck like a notification.

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The shirts are designed to alert wearers when they are within 12 feet of another other through a haptic vibration at the collar. When they shake hands or pat the others shoulder, the shirts recognize this touch and then illuminate shared interests. Whether you go to the same school, study the same degree, are from the same city, like certain sports, or are even interested in a love match, the shirts share what you have in common visually. The concept is a great idea for events where lots of people need to meet, like business conferences, first day of school, or even speed dating events.

+ Social Textiles

+ Massachusetts Institute of Technology

[Via Fast Co.Design]