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Hybrid Briefcase

The unfortunate reality of urban living is a diminishing amount of personal space. Among the more minor frustrations is commuting on public transportation, where breathing is often a luxury, or snagging a spot to work at a café without someone peering into our inbox.

But urbanites are increasingly rising up against this encroachment on their personal bubbles. Recently, French manufacturers designed La Fonction no. 1, or the “hybrid briefcase,” which looks like a regular old bag but opens into a three-walled mobile workstation. Meanwhile, a student in Singapore just created Spike Away, a spiked vest to be worn as a shield of sorts on public transportation. (The briefcase is orderable online; the vest isn’t yet available to the public.).

While different cultures handle personal space in distinct ways, these innovations suggest people across the globe are starting to recognize personal space as necessary to their sanity. The gadgets also play into our passive aggressive tendencies, allowing us to stake our territory without having to actually address the person whose armpit is in our face. In fact, research suggests people rarely start confrontations over infringements of their physical privacy, instead moving their bods away from the invader while their blood pressure rises and their palms start to sweat.

For those who simply can’t stomach the idea of someone breathing down their neck while waiting in line at the grocery store, consider moving to Lima, Peru, where the population density is pretty low compared to places such as New York, and personal space peaks at 3,780 square feet per individual.

Photo courtesy of La Fonction.

How do you handle the lack of personal space in your city? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet the author at @ShanaDLebowitz.