Educational Wearable for the promotion of Empathy in kids

Participation in Master’s Thesis of Grigoria Vroikou with subject “Promotion of Empathy in kids through a narrative and audio-visual material”. All credits go to Grigoria Vroikou as creator and owner of the narrative and patterns on the LEDs. The wearable consists of an Adafruit NeoPixel Digital RGB LED Strip, an Arduino Mega and a Power Bank.

Goal of the project

The current study is focused on the creation of a new type of empathy machine that can both activate the user’s embodied experience and promote the user’s feeling of presence in the mediated narrative world with the exploitation of an e-textile. We investigated whether the use of wearable e-textile technology can be utilized in storytelling as a narrative mediator that enhances empathy. We wanted to be able to put the user in someone else’s shoes, by presenting visual stimuli on their body, while they listen to a narrative. Visual stimuli on their body was accompanied with narrations, sounds or absence of sounds which contributed to the creation of a mediated environment that triggered students to feel the emotions of the narrative characters.

Approach

In the proposed approach, the main “reader” of the narrative wore the e-textile and stood opposite of a mirror in order to watch his own body as it was transformed by the illuminations. The narrative screen was the “reader’s” own body which mediated the oral narrations. The e-textile was covered by a matrix screen and LED strips controlled by an Arduino board (see figure). It could represent a variety of shapes independently or in combination, while important elements of its narrative function were the way, the sequence, and the frequency of activating the LEDs. Before the narrative began, the lights in the room were switched off and there was darkness which provoked a more dramatic impact of both the activation of the LEDs and their non-activation.