Touchy feely design

During the Design Practice module I spent some time researching tangible interfaces and products related to remote presence and emotion sharing. There was touch and feelings, and some of them aimed to be as touchy feely as possible. Below is a list of the most interesting, bizarre, or creepy ideas and prototypes I found.


A little figure that represents the instant messenger status of a selected person. You plug it into your computer and you can see it moving when there’s a status change. Useful when you’ve been waiting for someone to come online, but pointless when majority of your friends are either online or invisible all the time. More info


A flowery awareness system produced in pairs. As the paired flowers communicate via network you can give one to someone and then send “thoughts” to that person – when you touch your flower, the paired one lights up. Kinda cute, but I find fake flowers a bit sad. More info

Tree lamp

Multiperson version of blossom. Instead of flowers we have here a set of lamps connected with each other. It works basically the same, and as a bonus looks a bit more modern than fake flowers. More info [PDF]

6th Sense

This is a weird one. You mount it on a wall and place sensors around the flat of a person you want to stalk monitor stay in touch with. While active, 6th Sense monitors and responds to things like electricity, water flow, and movement. Too intrusive for my liking. “More info [PDF]”:h

Ceiling-based ambient display

This one doesn’t have an official name, but it is still good for stalkers / jealous partners. One part of the system is mounted on the ceiling and serves as a display in one flat, while the second part is installed under the floor in a different flat where it serves as a movement / position sensor. The person with the display can now track where in the flat that other person is and whether they invite others. Can’t decide what’s worse: this or the 6th sense. More info [PDF]


Another weird one, but perhaps could be seen as sweet and romantic (not). It’s a sleeping mask paired up with a music box. Yes, you’ve read that right. The sleeping mask reads sleep patterns of one person and then sends it to the music box, where they are transformed into tunes the other person can listen to. More info [PDF]


This one is actually cool and comes from Microsoft’s research lab. It’s basically an iPad with limited functionality aimed at older adults: it allows sending pictures, hand writing, and short messages. It even has a built-in camera, so you can snap a picture of yourself and write the message on top of that. The paper is worth reading. More info

Huggy Pajama

Ah, my favourite – the creepiest of them all. It is a system that allows for long-distance communication between a parent and a child. The parent has a toy, and the child has a pajama. The pajama reacts to hugs, squeezes and “stroking movements” (oh dear) that are sent from the toy. I don’t think a parent-child relation is the best one for this kind of device… More info and a paper [PDF]

So, which one would you like for your birthday?

~Falka, 22 January 12