User Experience Researcher
Design a way to intensify how we experience human hair
Mengdie Lu, Yuying (Abbey) Wang, Zuzana Galova and Xiyuan (Cyrus) Han
Directed Storytelling, Bodystorming
27.10 – 10.11.2022
We decided to explore community-shared experiences. What we found out with our experiments was people focused less on there when they are focused on an activity/ task while enjoying themselves because they felt part of something bigger than the observable subject.
One downside of the collective brushing of our hair was that males are less used to doing this because especially in the scenario of brushing others’ hair and feeling a bit unnatural to them.
Tieing the hair of two people to find out if hair creates closeness through physical contact.
The two were given different tasks to work out and coordinate between themselves. After little more than 20 minutes tied together both of them felt that the experience was too intimate, a bit uncomfortable and inconvenient.
We decided to look back and try to open up our exploration:
Where are one’s comfort zones of allowing people, not too close to them, to touch their body hair?
We the results from the 20 asked people showed us that forearm hair was fine to be touched by others.
This finding put us on the decision point of whether to go back to hair or to explore the new direction of arm hair. We reasoned that more could be done with the theme we had for our experience: friendly intimacy.
How do we foster/ amplify the connection between people through human hair?
The idea for experience was a touch language with simple interactions where one can genuinely check how the other feels emotionally.
The initial tests with people yielded positive responses that more connection is felt in the interaction and both of them felt comfortable. With the subsequent tests, we expanded and cleared out some of the confusion in our simple “language”.
The research also surfaced the issue with the fact that women, in general, do not have as much arm hair which made the experience more focused on the touch of the skin.
To tackle that we thought about using static electricity to make the arm hair more sensitive to the touch and more felt for the communicator. Other ideas in this direction were using thin mesh or rubber gloves however we could not implement them for the time being so we left them out.
For the next steps we received suggestions that our idea can be a great fit for the deaf-blind community; in accidents where people are not able to communicate; and lastly in mental well-being, especially now in the impacted from social distancing world where there is the hesitancy of human touch from which one can get a more genuine response.