Whispers

Role: Main Designer, Main Researcher, Main Developer
Participants: 1 (under two advisers)
Period: 2010.09 – 2011.01

Emotional Communication for Long Distance Couples

When I was in the Netherlands, I learned that people from other countries including myself feel loneliness. It was because (1) they lived alone and (2) had difficulty to communicate with family and friends in their homeland because of the time difference.

Whispers helps those people to be better connected. It does more than enable couples to exchange information. It supports their daily routine and encourages emotional communication based on simple usage and a desirable form. Different functions are activated according to how it is placed. It plays shared music when placed upright and works as an ambient lamp when turned upside down. When grabbed or placed horizontally, you can record your voice message as an active means of communication or share all ambient sounds as a passive means of communication. Once drawn near to your ear, you can listen to the sound recorded by your partner. The light gently blinks when there’s an incoming sound.

In the course of developing this, I invented a new user study method called 'Emotional Journey Map'. The method allows interviewees to express their sequential and spatial emotions with pictures rather than merely with words. The pictures are carefully chosen referring to authoritative Core Affect Model in psychology. I interviewed some people in a long distance relationship and gained more meaningful information than other user study methods.

The prototype was 3D-printed with plastic and inside, there are a Phigets board, a tilt sensor, a light sensor, a super bright LED, a speaker, and a microphone. The software was built with Max/Msp.

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