Different people have different ideas about what constitutes “personal space.” For example, in some cultures, it may be the norm to stand three feet away from a person one is talking to, whereas elsewhere, the standard might be four feet. Or two feet!
Unfortunately, this is a subtle feature of interaction that people are often not aware of, yet it is easy to annoy someone by being too close to them.
It would be easy for a person to indicate their personal space preference by wearing an incredibly bulky suit that would occupy the entire area of expected personal space. However, this would be cumbersome and impractical.
In order to allow people to easily indicate their personal space preferences in an unobtrusive manner, we propose the following:
- A modification of a standard hat (Figure 1)…
- … but with an array of laser pointers / emitters along the bottom of the brim (Figure 2).
- These lasers indicate a circle of desired personal space around the wearer. Now, if an intruder encroaches on the wearer’s personal space, this intruding individual will immediately be made aware of their misdeed by the laser pointer dots.
Fig 1: This standard hat is actually a high-tech apparatus, as shown in figure 2.
Fig 2: The brim of the hat has an array of laser pointers that project a “personal space” region around the wearer.
There is no reason for the personal space region to be a fixed distance from the wearer. It would be easy to allow the laser pointers to be angled away from the wearer to achieve the desired amount of personal space.
Fig 3: The hat will project an approximately-circular “personal space zone” around the wearer. Left: a “close talker” who doesn’t have a desire for a great amount of personal space. Right: this individual desires a slightly larger amount of personal space.
Fig 4: Finally, the reason why this example shows a top hat: if an object intrudes on the user’s personal space, a mechanical hand could emerge from the top of the hat (Inspector Gadget-style) to warn away the intruder.
This new fashion will no doubt be seen at haberdashers throughout the nation very soon!
PROS: Makes in-person communication even easier than before. Supports the declining hat industry.
CONS: May require a switch to turn it off when the wearer is on public transit, lest the automatic warning-hand cause a commotion.