Novitact’s new bracelet is part of the extended family of connected wristbands, this time aimed at the B2B market. It is designed to transmit urgent messages according to a set of coded touch sensations.
A disruptive idea, this. While the overall trend in wearables is to appeal to the general public (see e.g. L'Atelier’s recent interview with Mark Curtis) new initiatives are now emerging in the B2B space. One example of this is the Feeltact wristband designed by Novitact, a French startup which develops connected objects based on the use of touch, a sense which, in contrast to sight and sound, has so far been under-exploited. Novitact won first prize at the Grand Prix ‘Printemps Numérique’ (‘Digital Spring’) day which took place on 5 June in Compiègne, in northern France. There L'Atelier caught up with Novitact co-founder and CEO Thibaud Severini.
A lexicon of touch
Novitact’s Feeltact wristband has emerged from the ‘quantified self’ and ‘connected sports’ movements. However, this time it is not about counting the calories you have burned or the kilometers you have run.The bracelet transmits information through vibration, combining human perception and tactile sensation. By stimulating the user’s sense of touch "by pressing buttons, you can send a message which is transformed into vibrations for the person receiving it", explained Thibaud Severini. The intensity, the duration and the rhythm of the vibrations make up a coded set of pre-determined message types – a sort of "lexicon of the sense of touch", as Novitact’s co-founder describes it.
This ″alternative to hearing and sight″, as Severini puts it, is likely to be especially suited to situations where it is difficult to communicate by speaking. The wristband could for example be used in the transport sector to improve staff security. "A train inspector who is confronted by an aggressive passenger could very easily make the situation worse by pulling out his/her phone. By contrast, the Feeltact wristband would be much more discreet. S/he could just press it once to signal a problem to colleagues and receive a response telling him/her that the message has been received and reinforcements are on their way", explains Severini. The wristband may also be of use in sectors such as construction and public works, where it is often difficult to communicate on a noisy site, or for security officers during major sports and music events.