What if there was a way to extract the experience of holding a furry warm cat on your lap, which is calmly purring undernearth your stroking hand? What if we could reimagine this experience with the means of textiles and electronics and provide it to people most vulnerable and in need of such a soothing therapy?

With Vibro-tactile Textiles we are addressing the needs of a growing group of people living with a range of conditions like dementia, that cause agitation, stress and anxiety, patients recovering after a stroke, or people living with cognitive and physical disabilities. Our innovative approach allows us to combine electronic textiles and tactile textures with the knowledge of occupation therapists to deliver a sensory and playful, gesture-based interactive experience in form of a cushion interface.

The research project builds upon the work of Annie Lywood, the founder of Bonnie Binary, which produce sensory textiles.

The highly pressure-sensitive e-textile sensor matrix detects different modes of touch and connects them to soothing and versatile vibration patterns. The unique combination of gestures, vibrations and tactile textures offer patients relaxation but also occupation, involving all senses. A variety of playful interactive elements of the cushion help to engage and focus on one activity, thus giving a sense of control and autonomy to people living with dementia in their daily lives.

Our project is a European collaboration at its core – our team is distributed across UK, France and Germany. We are also conviced, that the key values communicated by our project correspond to European virtues, culture and ethics. We are addressing an underserved and vulnerable group of people, often overlooked by the big tech companies. It is also of great importance to us, to work in a most sustainable and ethical way, and put technology at the service of people, not the other way round. E.g. we publish our hardware and software under the open-source license, work with sustainable materials, design for repair, and handle our consultants’ data with care and respect.