IMPULSE — equalizer for empathy
Full film – swipe down
Roman Krznaric
This project is about outrospective empathy and our daily interactions with strangers in the urban environment, and generating a sense of togetherness in a more and more anonymous society. The Impulse-tool is intended to be a metaphorical crutch for empathy: an equalizer and translation machine for revealing personal body language. The impulse research device is part of a social study of how we trigger experimental empathy and raises questions about the topic by displaying the personal heartbeat. By introducing hypothetical jewellery that displays a red heartbeat projection on the owner’s skin we get an idea how different, weird, comfortable or uncomfortable it feels if others know our real “beat”. This can trigger strange social interactions with strangers.
 PERSONS IN THE VIDEO Camila Edgar Raphaëlle Boyer Safee Hussain Niels de Graaf Bhart Nijland Isabelle Verbiest THANKS!
 OPEN CONTENT High-resolution pictures, texts, sounds, component list and the code you will find at this link.


MAKING AND CODING Special thank's to TOM VOCKE for coding. You can find the code at "Open content"–
THE PROJECT Personal human interaction as social glue is becoming more important in light of an aging society, an increasing gap in between the rich and poor, and increasing immigration and digitalisation. Time pressure, hesitation, instant messaging, social hierarchy and differing cultures makes real personal interactions more rare. Strangers are not strange – A stranger has a heart which is beating even if we can not see it. Sometimes people may not be able to see even obvious body language cues and have difficulty understanding their counterpart or the group they are interacting with. Most of the time a difference in level of authority makes participants not equal. In these situations the body reacts in different ways and is possibly under pressure. Being over-polite and overly respectful creates pressure which effects the conversation. Empathy and authenticity are soft skills which are hard to learn and hard to practice; they are not developed through education, but only through human sensitivity. Displaying the heartbeat with a blinking light/projection is a metaphorical undressing of yourself which generates potential for a more equal experience and greater sensitivity to your conversational partner. The initial testing shows that this public initiative was generating curiosity; the blinking heart encouraged new conversations about this tool and the topic. Within direct conversations the participants had a special experience: sometimes positive, sometimes uncomfortable. Interest in the topic of empathy and togetherness took place and awareness of the lack of togetherness in public spaces was mentioned by many people. The Impulse-Tool measures the heartbeat at the ear lobe, the finger, the wrist, or the chest and sends sensor signals the processor which transforms the sensor input into a output, making the heartbeat visual. In the initial research it was an LED-light heart-shaped display on the device. For the hypothetical jewellery it was a light reflected on the skin. The jewellery may take the form of earrings, necklaces, finger rings, or other elements are possible to fix somewhere at the body. The way of displaying the heartbeat can change and can be the focus of further research work. Through the visualisation of the personal heat beat in different experimental ways, the research questions is how the behavior of both/all participants is influenced if we have a close and honest look in their mood. How can experiential empathy equalize a conditions for a better interaction or raise curiosity? Besides the hypothetical tool, this project serves also as a medium for further research in the field of social sciences. Using togetherness and diversity within this project increases the potential for a more influential academic result; working with different disciplines can help to reach the target of encouraging and enabling togetherness.
OBSERVATION Higher authority makes participants most of the time not equal. The body re-acts in different ways and is under pressure. Being over- polite and overly respectful create pressure which effects the conversation. How we trigger empathy and authenticity empathy and authenticity are soft skills which are hard to lern and hard to practice… it is not depending on education only about human sensitivity. Design Academy Eindhoven Mentors: Jesse Howard, Henriëtte Waal, Jon Stam Head: Jan Boelen Coordinator: Celeste Goncalves Robin Weidner RESEARCH STATEMENT I’m studying “outrospective empathy” because I want to find out if we can trigger the discussion of curiosity about strangers for rethink human relations. Through visualizing the personal heat beat to somebody else I want to research how the behavior of both participants is influenced of our have a close and honest look in their mood. In order to research how cognitive empathy can equalize a personal condition for a better interaction and raise curiosity. WHAT I WANT TO LEARN Working on a statement and a topic as a designer is part of our responsibility. Observing our daily life and generate our own critique. Either point out a topic through raising question and debate or solve a part of the problem with a hands-on product or prozess. Its naiv to say that a design can deal all this issues alone. Thats why I see a huge need in diversity and a collective work with different professions. I want to learn how a statement/topic can connect professions in academic work. How to reach an influential outcome with the power of diversity and togetherness?