Invisible Flock wanted to find ways to improve how people interact with each other and the world, focusing especially on dementia patients. Through this exploration they have, in collaboration with dementia patients, created three very cool and irresistible-to-touch prototype gadgets: a pair of wired up gloves, a digital and semi-interactive photobook, and a re-wired mobile phone, all of which are available for visitors to view and to touch.

Hold looks at how we can all understand better just how we use touch; deliberately, accidentally and without thinking about it. It focuses on how the relationships between children and their parents, and in couples – and touching in those relationships – change when dementia begins to creep in. 

I Wanna Hold Your Hand is a pair of gloves with built in GPS and sensory devices which has collected data from a walk where two people in a relationship held hands. Touching, particularly holding hands, is a massive part of their relationship, and the gloves reveal their intimacy through a series of colourful charts.

The Photobook is more than just a moving photo album. It enables families, patients and even carers to remember and reflect memories through videos and photos being emailed or uploaded onto the book’s projection which can be enjoyed over and over again. It heightens the experience of looking at photographs, which Invisible Flock discovered was a vital part of some patients' lives.

Finally, Rethink the Mobile shows the way in which a man called Roy and his daughter could feel closer together if they, while talking on their mobiles to each other, could actually feel their fatherly and daughterly warmth. This is done through either of them ‘calling’ the other and then the receiver feeling a warm touch. Heat transmits down the line and it can feel like a pat, a hug or just a simple comforting touch. Personally, I think this is most beautiful of all of Invisible Flock’s prototypes; as lovely as it is to hear a loved one’s voice, it can sometimes be even more comforting to feel their touch.

Technology can be distancing and problematic, especially for older generations and for those with dementia. Invisible Flock hopes these prototypes will be able to help shorten the gap between the generations; the patients and their families.

Hold enters into a discussion with how people convey emotions through touch and how technology can enhance this; and these prototypes certainly display how simple and everyday objects can be made more beautiful through the added value of touch.

The exhibition successfully explores and discusses the power that touch has. It cannot be put into words, and so the importance of touch can be seen through the prototypes on display. The stories shared and the thoughts stirred are truly touching and long-lasting.

Hold is on display in the FACT Connects space until 19 February. Find more information here.