When Facebook Pokes Get Physical

For Facebook users who find the concept of poking to be an annoyance: Can you imagine being physically poked each time one of your friends used the feature?

Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg may have invented poking online, but another invention translates the poke into a physical alert.

Jasper van Loenen and Bartholomäus Traubeck demonstrated a device that does just that for The Next Web, the Poking Machine, explaining their motivation, aside from clearly having too much time on their hands:

Online social networks are platforms for communication, enabling us to connect anywhere we go. However, they still lack the mediation of physical communication.

Facebook tries to improve this by enabling its users to poke each other, which basically only sends another written message to the person you poke, without conveying the original intent of the poking gesture.

The Poking Machine converts the message into an actual physical poke, extending the reach of this haptic gesture indefinitely. This way, users can connect not only virtually, but also physically.

How does it work? Here’s the explanation from van Loenen:

The setup consists of a custom-built circuit (ATtiny, servo, battery, and bluetooth module) that connects to an Android phone, letting it keep track of incoming pokes. The circuit is housed in a laser-cut box you can wear on your arm.

The Poke Machine reminds us of the light-up like notifier that interactive ad agency Redpepper made out of Legos about a year ago.

Readers: How much money would it take to get you to even consider strapping on the Poking Machine?