Wisp is a breakthrough in wearable technology, the erotic industry, and women's sex lives! Using passive stimulus like smell and vibration, Wisp can be activated remotely with an app to trigger arousal for the user. The final product will look more like jewelry than technology, and hopes to increase healthy sexual intimacy between partners. Wan Tseng has been showing her work all over the world, representing design for women by women in a predominantly male industry. You can learn more about this innovative creative technologist on her website at http://wantseng.com/Wisp
What is your background and the inspiration for Wisp?
I'm a product designer specialized in user experience. Wisp was my graduate project for my master degree at RCA and Imperial College. In the beginning, I wanted to work on a project related to pleasure and desire. This led me to think about sex. It's one of most important demands in humans life, but not enough people talk about it. That is where Wisp started, I wanted to see how design can play with the concept of sex and conversations around it.
Through your research, you noted the visual nature of men and the holistic needs of women. Both consumer technology and design fields represent male dominant industries. How do you think an increase of women in wearable tech development will change the way smart products are developed?
Women designing for women: I can imagine that through women's thinking, the future trend of smart products will focus more on emotional demands and user experience, driving our virtual experiences delicately and close to real life. I’m not saying designers do not practice this now - but when more and more females join the tech design field, diversity will speed up the process! it will also create new vitality for smart products.
Wisp subtly empowers women's sexuality, and deepens couple's intimacy. What research and design methods helped you bridge emotional design and wearable technology?
I gave sensory stimuli to a focus group. My team observed how to create different sensations and how users behave in different scenarios.
Wisp is a wearable design - so, the quickest, most direct way to test the prototype was directly on user's skin and to monitor the user’s personal status all the time. From the study I learned erogenous zones are not only genital organs and breasts. My team wanted to offer a chance for users to explore their body.
Our goal is to become a symbol of self-confidence. I want to encourage people to talk about sex in a healthy way. It’s up to the user when to wear Wisp (most people like to wear these products discretely), but I hope that good design can help users to not feel ashamed or shy about wearing it.
How do you think haptic and aromatic technology can integrate into consumer society?
Customizing user experience is the key. VR on its own is limited, but represents a great opportunity to extend users’ sensations.
In regards to tactile haptic perception, there is so much to play with - not only the vibration, but also the feeling of touch or soft air-blowing.
What are the main limitations and obstacles you face developing Wisp from a prototype to a mass manufacturable product?
Electronics Engineering design constrains the size of the wearable. the Industrial Design and Mechanical Engineering always fight at this point.
Sex tech is always hard to get funding for. Wisp is not exactly sex tech, it is a new market based on an existing industry. The taboo it hard to break. Also, most of the board members on investment panels are male. Venture capitalism is very male dominant.
What platforms, hardware brands, and software did you use in the early prototyping stage of your products? Why did you choose them and what is your review?
I used Arduino and Processing for the prototype. Arduino is great for physical computing and Processing for the interface. I used MIT App Inventor 2 for app design. I chose these applications because it's easy to learn and fast to build the framework. The most important thing is that all of them are open source. There are lots of online resources and templates for your reference.
I've used Arduino for a while. My review is that Arduino is simple for people who are not expert in engineering. You can use it as a fast trial to proof and test your concept. Arduino is not expensive, and you can find the modular sensors at your local retail shop.
Paint me two pictures:
Your utopian dream for a sensory and physically augmented society.
I hope in the future the real interaction is combining digital sensation and nature.
2. Your dystopian nightmare for the mechanically and digitally integrated human race.
The worst situation is people addicted to technology and having forgotten reality.