Reality Mediators

Featured in:
Design BoomThe Creators ProjectDezeenWiredCNetProtein, Fast Company, Trendhunter, Adafruit, Time & Space (Japan), PAGE magazine – April 2014 issue

Exhibited in:
Coded Matter(s) Exhibition by FIBER Festival

Nominated in:
2013 Internet Of Things Awards: Best design fiction project

This project is part of an ongoing research that I have been doing that involves the effect of Mediated Reality on the user and the user’s interaction with the environment.

The project investigates the limits of human bearability towards wearable device as a new form of skin extension or technological prostheses found attached on the human body. It questions the extent to which human behaviour can be altered with such type of computer devices during interaction with, and inhabition of the environment. When technology becomes invasive, questions of control between user and device will be raised. In the circularity, exchange of information sharing between human and machine, each with their own goal, there will be instances where machine dominance and human subservience can occur.


Reality Mediators consists of 3 sets of design experiments that seek to explore the degree of disruptiveness created by active goal-based wearable devices. The 3 sets of experiments consist of 3 different types of sensors, i.e. muscle sensor, brainwave sensing device and Global Positioning System (GPS). They are paired separately with 4 types of actuators, i.e. electrical muscle stimulation, sound actuators, heat pads and vibration motors, fitted onto different parts of the body. All the outputs create inherently unpleasant effect on the user so as to measure the level of obvious disruptiveness to user’s everyday activities.

Each set of device is fitted onto the author’s body for a duration of approximately 3 to 4 hours separately, to better understand the effect on human body. A few of the devices are also fitted on other users to compare the differences in experience. The observations are then recorded in the form of an anecdotal account, consisting of three key aspects to be measured:

(i) Level of disruptiveness to the user’s everyday activities
(ii) Level of user awareness on own body condition and surrounding environment
(iii) Degree of comfort in wearing the devices

muscle sensor 2

muscle sensor top





heat pad

The design and packaging of each device is devised as a critique against commercially adorned technology that aims to provide consumers with benefit through the use of branding/marketing strategy and invasive media that breaks down the dichotomy between transparency of information sharing and human privacy.

Click on this Link to view the graphic and packaging design of Reality Mediators.



Reality Mediators II – Limits of Bearability

- In progress -

Reality Mediators II: Limits Of Bearability, is designed by the author with the aim of understanding how the artificially intelligent nature of active technological prosthesis can alter the user’s consciousness, and how bearable such devices are perceived by the user in the long run.

The design consists of two object-distance sensing sensors (sonic range finders) attached to the back of the neck, and two vibration motors attached separately to each side of the arm, each receiving information from one of the two sonic range finders. A clock is calibrated into the device through a GPS breakout board, so that real-time data can be recorded and adjusted. The sensors and actuators are embedded under silicone sheets so that they can be pinned to clothes and be concealed easily

Prototyping phase

Screen Shot 2013-07-16 at 8.59.58 AM Screen Shot 2013-07-16 at 9.08.49 AM


 *This project is developed at The Bartlett‘s Interactive Architecture Lab under the supervision of Ruairi Glynn


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