Little things can have a significant effect on our lives. Take the fact that human touch is really good for us.
Neuroscientists have proven that little incidental touches are vital for happiness and wellbeing to humans. Did you know that holding hands can decrease symptoms of depression? That a cuddle can help a premature baby gain weight? Or that a little pat on the back from a teacher can double a student’s confidence to speak up in class?
Being the curious bunch we are, we stumbled on to these findings recently and we were astonished how something so simple, and something we can all have access to, can make such a difference. We were even more surprised to discover that ethnologists recently found out that us Brits touch each other the least out of any other country in the world. Which means here in the UK, we're the most touch deprived.
So we decided to make an interface to try and change that, through the simple act of holding hands.
The really great thing about holding hands is that it’s one of the most effective ways to release the happiness neurochemical oxytocin into the body.
Using a simple Makey Makey, a team of W+Kers including Luke Tipping, Joseph Haigh and Daniel Smith built a giant conductive controller that only works when users hold hands with a playing partner. With this experiment, it really does take two to play the game.
We hooked the In Your Hands controller up to a game and debuted the project at the Wired 2014 Next Generation event in London last weekend, alongside projects from Google and MIT. Next Generation aims to excite and inspire curiosity in 12-18 year olds with talks, workshops and interactive exhibits themed around technology and creativity.
The results of our In Your Hands exhibit were fascinating, with Wired guests queueing up to take a spin on the controller and getting competitive in trying to smash their previous high scores. The best thing about the day was feeling a buzz in the atmosphere, thanks to all the oxytocin flowing through players' systems, as well as a constant flow of high fives. Great stuff.
Thanks to Wired for having us, and to all the W+K guinea pigs we tested the controller on.