An experimental system of wearables and situated transceivers that combine to manifest a sixth sense for its users - an ability to sense when your friends were just nearby.

The LOCUS system uses emerging BLE technology to link spatially-situated electronics with each user’s wearable device. The device, in this case, is a thermally-actuated neck cuff; the underlying hardware is flexible enough to support any number of alternative actuation technologies.

The project was born out of curiosity about emerging Bluetooth 4 “Beacon” technology - what new interactions or opportunities could be afforded when microelectronics can communicate, and collaborate, ad hoc?

The design of the LOCUS (first codenamed “brainslug”) encompassed a couple of key values:

  • The wearable shouldn’t steal focus from the wearer or his/her interactions. It should be a silent signal just to the wearer and does not need to be seen/felt by others
  • The system should hold an absolute minimum of personal or temporal information. Compromising one device should yield a minumum of relationship information.

Mode of operation:

Each wearable has a unique ID that it advertises continually. Each wearable device has in its firmware a list of IDs of friends of yours. The project does not address how you exchange or provision these IDs; there are plenty of ways I am sure you can think of to accomplish this.

Each situated element (I was calling these “barnacles” in my head, since they’re tiny, stuck-in-place devices that filter ambient/environmental signals as they go past - I later expanded the barnacles concept into a larger work, so I’ll say “base station” here)