The idea for an ‘empathy hat’ was born after a discussion about how comfortable people would be to show how they are really feeling. How open do we want to be about our feelings?
Facial expressions are easy to regulate and so are words, but physiological reactions are less easy to manipulate. Pulse is one of the signals expressing how a person is feeling.
The empathy hat is a prototype of wearable technology that helps to communicate how the wearer is feeling. A pulse sensor is attached to the earlobe and the LED lights on the hat show the pulse.
The hat was crocheted with grey and red acrylic yarn, with a 12mm thick crochet hook. The LED lights are controlled with a LilyPad Arduino board, which is connected to a Pulse Sensor. The board is powered with a Li-ion battery.
The hat is yet to be taken to use outside of our offices, so we do not have empirical evidence of whether the hat will facilitate empathy in everyday context.