Tom Cobbenhagen

A business card and portfolio

Embodied social interaction


Project 3 (B2.2) – Research Project


A. Hupfeld, K. Andersen, O. Tomico, M. Toeters, K. van Os



This design research covers the effect of a social rating system as a wearable in an office environment. Participants were asked to wear a vest implemented with electronics to allow one to rate another. The vest is equipped with rating ‘buttons’ and a visual representation of one’s score. Because the rating system is implemented in a wearable the participants had another threshold to overcome, the physical interaction. In order to investigate the effects of the social credibility rating system as a wearable, subjective ratings of a social credit and behavioral change in interaction have been recorded. By using an augmentative and interactive wearable as a prototype, the effects of such a rating system and whether such a system changes the behaviour of people, and to what extent, is field-tested. A qualitative analysis method is used to execute the research; all participants were subject to an extensive interview to elaborate on their decisions and actions with relation to the usage of the prototype.


Rating systems already exist today in our society. Think about rating systems for services; Uber, Airbnb. Or more subtle social rating systems like social media, where social status and prestige are key. These kind of systems are getting used more and more. Maybe so that in the future people get comfortable with personal rating and forget the controversy. We were interested in bringing this still underlying ‘system’ to the surface. Provoking the way people already rate each other in a direct manner. What if people could rate each other on the spot through touching?

The design that was used to achieve this allowed peers of the participants to give or subtract points by tapping the right (minus) or left (plus) shoulder of a ‘rating vest’. This way they had to overcome two barriers; the touching of and judging of a peer. By making it this ‘awkward’ and direct we were hoping to find how comfortable people are with rating systems. Also in what way they will act when dealing with this kind of confrontation.

The social rating system context within this research is inspired by social credit system that is planned to be implemented by the Chinese government in 2020 [4]​. ​This system keeps track of people’s credibility, which can be altered by good deeds and bad deeds, such as volunteer work (good) and not visiting one’s parents for a long time (bad). These actions will have positive or negative consequences, such as not being able to use public transport (negative). The scope of this research however will only be limited to the workplace and excluding any penalties or consequences.
This research is done in a educational environment under a collaborative condition with a total of 19 participants. The main contribution of the research documented in this paper concerns the interaction with a social rating system though the ‘rating vest’ and how this research realized the rating system in a wearables. The second contribution concerns insight in how our participants view this kind of direct rating system.