Massage-me Jacket, the most innovative video game controller ever made

Massage_me_Jacket.jpgHannah Perner-Wilson and Mika Satomi are two very creative young ladies who are extremely passionate about Wearable Technologies.

Their fascination in Wearable Technologies combined with studies in Industrial Design and Interface Cultures enabled them to create Wearable Electronic projects like the ‘Massage me‘ Jacket, a unique video game controller.

The ‘Massage me’ concept is a wearable massage interface that turns a video game player’s excess energy into a back massage for your partner or loved ones. Playing Massage me requires two people, one who wears the jacket to receive the massage and one who massages the person wearing the jacket.

Soft, flexible buttons are embedded in back of the jacket so that wearing it turns your back into a gamepad. All you need to do is to sit or lay down in front of a video game player and you will be able to enjoy a back massage while the game lasts.

Otherwise wasted button-pushing energy is transformed into a massage and the addicted game player becomes an inexhaustible masseur. Video Gaming becomes a healthy pastime – kids of all ages will love this.

We go the opportunity to have an interview with Hannah and Mika to find out more about their work:

Hi Hannha, Mika. Thanks for taking time for a short interview.

How did you both come together and start exploring wearable technology?
Mika and I first met in Linz (Austria) during the 2005 Ars Electronica student exhibition of Interface Cultures.
Mika soon afterwards came back as an exchange student before she decided to start her PHD at Interface Cultures.
I studied Industrial Design at the Art University in Linz from 2003 until 2007 and was very involved in the Interface Cultures department.

What was the idea for ‘Massage me’, a truly innovative Interface between humans and the virtual world?
Massage_me_game.jpgWe came up with the idea for massage me in February 2007, after a long day at the Transmediale in Berlin. We were both thinking about how to get a free massage.
From the first idea until the full realization, only six months passed. We completed “Massage me” last autumn and are amazed at how many opportunities we’ve had to exhibit it all over the world.
We are happy the exhibits have often been centered around youth and computer games, which means we get an interesting audience, who don’t necessarily view the installation as an “art” piece but as a game interface.
Our intentions behind the piece were also critical of how traditional game interfaces only really involve the gamer and limit the player to very repetitive and minimal movements. But we also really just wanted to make it for our boyfriends to play with :-)
‘Massage me’ was our first collaboration and it worked out really well. So we decided to continue to work together.

‘Puppeteer’ is another of your successful collaborations which explores the use of wearable technologies for performances. What was your inspiration for ‘Puppeteer’?
Puppeteer.jpgPuppeteer’ is our most recent work, a series of motion-capture costumes for performances. We focus on developing our own pressure sensors from off-the-shelf textile components.
We attach these to the joints of the performer to track their motion. The sensors and the conductive traces are all textile based and soft and stretchy as much as possible. The performances deal with the concept of action and reaction, and we aim to create a feedback loop in which the performer creates feedback, which then again influences what he/she will do next.
The technology works as a kind of interpreter, and as the programmers, we basically have control over the (mis-)interpretations.

What is your view on Wearable Technology?
We both became interested in wearable technology around the same time, apart from the fact that our collaborations have all been wearable. What we like is the contradiction between traditional hard electronics and all these new possibilities that are now accessible to even the end-consumer like conductive fibers and fabrics.
It is funny that neither of us are like super cyborg, we’re not even fans of super-synthetic clothing or having our cellphones with us all the time.
Combining electronics with clothing is an interesting expressive media, that I think we’ve just found great and inspirational to explore.

A very interesting view about wearable technology. Wearable Electronic is often classified as geek fashion made from geeks for geeks. Your work will certainly contribute to ‘free’ technology enhanced clothing from its geek image.

Thank you both for our time. We will come back to you and have a closer look to the many other wearable technology projects you are working on.

We will bring more about Hannah’s and Mika’s large portfolio. In the meantime, visit Hannah’s project Website Plusea.at, Mika’s project site Nerding.at and their collaborative project site massage-me.at which contains a wealth on information about the ‘making off’ the Massage me Jacket and other projects.

19 Comments


  1. The ‘Puppeteer’ looks like it could be used for dance performance.

    I played with massage wearables at the wearable technology book launch 2 weeks ago here in NYC. Nice hybrid approach!

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