Documentation of IxD.ma degree project

Nesli Hazal Oktay
29 min readFeb 8, 2019

Welcome to my 5 months journey of degree project for Interaction Design MA at Estonian Academy of Arts.

#1 Introduction

Background

I started planning my degree project by aiming to combine my design skills with my scuba diving passion. My initial thought was to propose a concept that makes scuba diving a more enhanced experience for scuba divers and many other people who are under extreme conditions.“Designing for extreme environments, empowering communication under extreme environments, study case: scuba diving” was my initial topic.

2013, the year I officially became a scuba diver

Scuba divers communicate mostly through hand gestures and navigate through floating and by using fins attached to the feet. The nature of communication and navigation underwater is limited and unnatural, so they have inspired me to challenge myself to tackle these limitations while exploring the opportunities of designing for extreme environments and interaction design.

Scuba Diving Equipments

The most interesting part was that when you communicate via hand signals underwater, there is a loss of emotion and information. So I asked myself “How can we communicate underwater more effectively? Here you can see some examples of defining marine life by using hand signals:

Scuba diving hand signals for identifying marine life

My initial focus was on underwater communication and navigation; however, I wanted to find a design concept that can be not only used in scuba diving but also under many other extreme environments, such as hiking in the wild nature or sailing, etc. Since scuba diving is used in several extreme fields, I knew that this project might be a great opportunity to create a design solution for many people with different passions, values, and lifestyles.

For example, it is required that astronauts know how to swim. Why? After all, there’s no water in space. There is water on Earth, though, and much of the practice for spacewalks takes place underwater. Astronauts dive to the bottom of a 12-meter- (40-foot-) deep tank called the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL) because it simulates conditions very close to the weightlessness of space. Anyone who’s ever swum knows that your body works very differently underwater. Heavy objects move with ease, and your body feels light and tends to drift and float. This is similar to how it feels to be in the microgravity of space. This is a great way for astronauts to simulate activities (1).

Astronauts training underwater

Widening my theme

After some very interesting feedback session with the IxD.ma team, I have decided to widen my degree project theme to enhancing distance communication which can be any interpersonal communication in which the physical gap between the participants is beyond the physiological limits of unaided human perception (2). I decided to keep my point of view as a scuba diver as a source of inspiration and motivation for my degree project, but also decided that I will not limit myself on scuba divers or extreme environments during my research or during my design process.

IxD.ma teams 2017 & 2018

When it comes to how I have decided to widen my theme like this? Well, during the kick-off presentations of our degree projects, a coursemate of mine said:

“During winter time here in Tallinn, with our gloves on and while walking on the slippery ice, it is like an extreme environment where it is difficult to simply text someone.”

This sentence itself made me think, maybe if I focus and limit myself with scuba diving or even with extreme environments; I might miss a chance to create a meaningful design concept which will be more relatable and more applicable. And my supervisors couldn’t agree more. So, I started planning my degree project with the goal of creating a design concept that will help many living creatures not only scuba divers or people who are in extreme environments. At this point, I really wanted to keep my eyes open and try to get inspired by many humans as much as possible. You can tell from the pics below that my kick-off had a very positive impact on me and on my degree project.

#2 Hypothesis and Methodology

There are several hypotheses that guided me through my design process such as:

  • When communicating in distant there is a loss of information and emotions both for the sender and the recipient
  • Message encoding requires a calm and flexible environment.
  • Interpretation and making sense of the message can vary in different environments and contexts.

To validate or disprove my hypotheses I have chosen generative research and participatory design. And to deliver the final solution I have chosen prototyping, video storytelling, and concept creation.

To propose a design concept for people with different lifestyles, different passions, and different values, I have decided to talk to as many people as possible who have limited flexibility while communicating.

#3 Keywords

Communication: The Process, Barriers, And Improving Effectiveness — Fred C. Lunenburg, Sam Houston State University, 2010.

Since I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications, I am familiar with terms and literature review. And I have found a very clear paper by Fred C. Lunenburg that explains what communication is and how it works:

Communication can be defined as the process of transmitting information and common understanding from one person to another. The word communication is derived from the Latin word, communis, which means common. The definition underscores the fact that unless a common understanding results from the exchange of information, there is no communication. Figure 1 reflects the definition and identifies the important elements of the communication process. (3).

Two common elements in every communication exchange are the sender and the receiver. The sender initiates the communication…The receiver is the individual to whom the message is sent. The sender encodes the idea by selecting words, symbols, or gestures with which to compose a message. The message is the outcome of the encoding, which takes the form of verbal, nonverbal, or written language. The message is sent through a medium or channel, which is the carrier of the communication. The medium can be a face-to-face conversation, telephone call, e-mail, or written report. The receiver decodes the received message into meaningful information. Noise is anything that distorts the message. Different perceptions of the message, language barriers, interruptions, emotions, and attitudes are examples of noise. Finally, feedback occurs when the receiver responds to the sender’s message and returns the message to the sender. Feedback allows the sender to determine whether the message has been received and understood.

The hidden dimension — Edward T. Hall, 1966.

Hall described the interpersonal distances of man (the relative distances between people) in four distinct zones:

intimate space, personal space, social space, and public space.

Intimate space is where you can see the close-up features of the other person’s face which can be too close to get a good view.

Personal space is where you can observe the other person’s entire face and see their emotion and facial gestures very easily.

Social space is where you can see the other person’s face in a normal size and where you can perceive the other person in a typical conversational distance.

Lastly, public space is where you are free to move around wherever you’d like with no expectations of interaction. (4)

In the current digital age that we are living in, there are many digital interactions. We are very close to people in proximity thanks to digital interfaces. Does this mean we are really in someone else’s intimate and or personal space while communicating through mobile devices? This is a very interesting question that inspires me for my degree project.

Team Decision-Making In Extreme Environments — Olivia Brown, CREST, Lancaster University, 2017.

Another very interesting read was by Olivia Brown, who made a research on team decision-making in extreme environments, I believe her research is very guiding and interesting for my degree project:

Imagine you are in a team of people, attempting to summit Everest for the first time. You have been with the same teammates for over two months, with little contact with anyone else. When the weather takes a turn for the worse, you and your team must quickly decide whether to abandon your summit attempt or to risk continuing. You’re out of breath from the thinness of the air and as each minute passes you are becoming colder and more exhausted. Research would refer to this as an extreme environment, due to the incredible interpersonal, physical and psychological challenges it presents (5).

I also read three fellow interaction designer’s degree projects about human communication to get inspired by, two of them are an outcome of Interaction Design Masters Program at Umea University. First one is called “revealing the nature of human characteristics through interaction design” and the second one is called “designing for human experience in the transhumanist era.” The last one is called HONNE, the tangible manifestation of a meaningful moment being alone” from the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design.

#4 Conversations

Öztan Sönmez — 47, TSSF/CMAS 2* instructor in Istanbul / Turkey

Sometimes even though I use an underwater notepad to communicate, divers just do not understand me.

My first interview was with a scuba diver professional because scuba diving was my starting point, my source of inspiration and motivation for my degree project. One very interesting quote from this interview is: “Sometimes even though I use an underwater notepad to communicate, divers just do not understand me. They can easily shut themselves, mostly when they panic.” Scuba divers use underwater notepads because they allow them to communicate quickly and accurately or just make notes or maps. But when the addressed person is in the state of panic, even a simple text simply becomes meaningless for them.

Stock photo

Anonymous — 28, Developer in Tartu / Estonia

But to me personally the motorcycle ride is something personal and you don’t communicate since you are busy with every limb on your body.

Another inspirational quote was from a developer who’s passion is motorcycles. And when I asked him to explain to me how he communicates on the bike he told me: “My friend’s father has this special integrated microphone that lets you have phone calls and answer them via buttons on the helmet. And on trips, people buy walkie talkies with similar headphones to communicate. But to me personally the motorcycle ride is something personal and you don’t communicate since you are busy with every limb on your body.” So for him, the beauty of being on top of a bike is to be alone with himself. That made me think, how do we know the right time to reach out someone?

Stock photo

And how do we communicate when our hearing disabilities get weaker? Do we pretend to hear? Most of the elderly people that I know pretend to hear and give a random answer to the questions they do did not hear clearly. Is it because they are too shy to admit they are having a hearing loss caused by aging? If yes, how can we help them to communicate with more confidence? To understand this state of obscurity, I am planning to experiment with communication and observe two people communicating without sound.

#5 Vision

Source (6)

What is communication? Is it a message, a connection, or a feeling? By definition, it is the successful conveying or sharing of ideas and feelings. However, with the digital era, it became more artificial and less humane.

In our hyper-connected world, we often suffer from the inability to have meaningful communications. We communicate through smartphones and we lack interactivity and emotions while doing so. During my investigation, I discovered that there are many unseen meanings under our digital interactions such as when we are mad we type faster and we put more pressure on the screen.

Communication in a digital era

Today there are many technologies that bring two people from different environments and that connects them through screens. So, we are currently experiencing many digital interactions on a daily basis and we are very close to people in a sense of proximity. Does this mean that we are really close to them? I believe not totally; because there is a limitation of transferring our emotions and a limit of real-timeliness. For example, even when video calling you cannot maintain eye-contact which makes the communication less natural.

Plus, most of the communication is text-based but when you write a sentence by hand it gives a totally different feeling than typing it. To see that difference I asked two people to write down the same sentence. I choose a sentence which contains all the English letters so that I could observe the differences between all the letters: The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

It was pretty easy to spot the differences between two handwritings and it made me realize the lack of personalization while texting. Currently, iOS 10 lets their users to instantly send handwritten texts. It works like this: when you are in Messages on iOS 10 there is a new handwriting option that can automatically trigger when you accidentally turn your iPhone on the side. Even though it is fun and very engaging, it is also time-consuming and not very user-friendly. So, users prefer this feature for special occasions such as birthday celebrations and not on a daily basis.

iOS 10 handwritten message feature

What if sending handwritten messages was more seamless. My first idea is that when you set up your device, it asks you to write “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” several times using your thumb so that the device detects your handwriting and it will be possible to turn any text to handwriting.

#6 Who am I designing for?

Users that are good with technology and with a mobile digital life. They are mostly far away from their loved ones since they live abroad to study, work or to travel. They are considered as millennials so they have reached adulthood around the turn of the 21st century. They grew up in an electronics-filled and increasingly online and socially-networked world. They are the generation that has received the most marketing attention. As the most ethnically diverse generation, Millennials tend to be tolerant of difference. Having been raised under the mantra “follow your dreams” and being told they were special, they tend to be confident. While largely a positive trait, the Millennial generation’s confidence has been argued to spill over into the realms of entitlement and narcissism.

One reported result of Millennial optimism is entering into adulthood with unrealistic expectations, which sometimes leads to disillusionment. Many early Millennials went through post-secondary education only to find themselves employed in unrelated fields or underemployed and job hopping more frequently than previous generations. Their expectations may have resulted from the very encouraging, involved and almost ever-present group of parents that became known as helicopter parents (7).

Plus, Millennials tend to share their lives with other people through their smartphones on a daily basis. As a millennial myself, I believe the digital life that we are living in made us isolated from real life and we become unhappier than the previous generations. We spend so much time being digitally social, we rarely remember to have real conversations.

#7 Experimentations

To experiment with non-verbal communication, I asked two people to communicate in different ways such as: without touching each other, using props, without any eye contact, etc.

Notifying

There is a very unnatural characteristic of communication in the digital era: notifications. The way we get notified for a call or for a message is very artificial. We hear some mechanical sounds or feel the vibration when we get notified by our mobile phones. To imitate the distance communication between two people I have asked one participant to notify the other one without making sound and without any eye and physical contact.

The girl on in black sweater has decided to be the notifier and she shook her leg a bit like when you are nervous or when you have been waiting for a long time and the other participant got it instantly. It was interesting to see that she decided to use a natural behavior to notify her friend (with the blue sweater)instead of doing big gestures to capture her attention.

A few minutes later, I asked the same task to other people and by chance one of the participants chose to notify his friend by using his leg! But this time, his movement was very obvious and did not seem natural.

This time the participant waved his hand in front of his friend to grab his attention and to notify him. This seemed very natural and smooth. I find it very interesting that none of the “notifiers” moved their upper bodies while notifying the other participant, I believe it was because they were afraid to make eye contact.

Using props

Later on, to see how people interact with props that are not commonly used to communicate, I asked two people to communicate without sounds and using several props such as, candles, matches, aluminum foil and bottles of water.

An aluminum foil

I asked participants to use an aluminum foil for their non-verbal communication. This seemed like a comfortable prop for them and after the experiment, they confirmed that foil was the most comfortable prop to use. Because of the ability to create sounds and textures, they played around the aluminum foil in a very effective way. They even co-created a city like an area using the 3D effect of the foil. They mostly understood what they were talking about in the first place.

Candles, a box of matches and an A3 sized paper

This seemed like the most fun experiment for the participants. I was expecting them to light up candles and use the melting wax to write or draw on the paper, but they did not even light the candles, so I was very surprised! They started building some structures using the matches and gluing the matches together by firing them together. It seemed that they were playing with legos with their own language. There was not an obvious conversation but it was a strong representation of co-creation. Later on, they confirmed that these tools were an invitation to a fun game.

3 bottles of water

The last experiment was a tricky one, I gave the participants three bottles of water, one with a white lid with regular temperature water in it. One with a red lid with hot water in it and one with a green lid with cold water in it. I was expecting the participants to use the lid colors as a representative of “Yes” or “No” since red and green are universal colors of negative and positive. But, as soon as I gave them the props, they noticed the temperature difference and they only focused on warmth and cold. It was very obvious that in this case temperature was a stronger aspect then colors. They did not fully understand what the conversations about and later on they stated that this was the most abstract way to communicate.

#8 Why do we communicate?

After experimentations, conversations, and readings, I also investigated “why do we communicate in distance?” Yes, to exchange information and emotions but is that all? We communicate to feel, to share to feel social and human. We communicate to feel connected to the world and to ourselves. And I do not think the current technologies sufficient and efficient to feel connected to our loved ones in distant while communicating them. So, I decided to talk to more people who are classified as my target group.

#9 More conversations

Seren — 26, Consular agent in Paris, France

I was alone at home and laughing, smiling, sharing a drink with him through the screen of course. We even ordered the same food and ate it together. At one point I felt like I am in a scene in Black Mirror.

Seren has been living away for 3 years now. She underlined that being away from her loved ones made her more attached and more dependent on her mobile phone. She shared that even though technology helps, she still misses sharing moments with her mom: “When I am at the seaside and I send a video of the view to my mom I know that it is not enough, I want to send her the smell of the pancakes filled with Nutella that fills the air, I would like to touch her hand through the screen.” She pointed up that when she talks to her long-distance boyfriend via Skype, she does not like the fact that they cannot maintain eye-contact. She also shared an experience that she had while having a video call with him: “A few days ago I had a skype date night with my boyfriend, it was very nice, the only thing that bothered me was that we could not maintain eye contact since we both had to look at the screen and not the camera. So, I was alone at home and laughing, smiling, sharing a drink with him through the screen of course. We even ordered the same food and ate it together. At one point I felt like I am in a scene in Black Mirror. Because I was all alone in the room and I was acting that there was someone else next to me. But that person was on the other side of the screen. It was weird.”

Idil — 26, Master student in Barcelona / Spain

When I talk to my mom (via Facetime) she is in front of me but it just does not feel real. The energy is not fully there.

Idil lives and studies in Barcelona. I asked her experience in communicating her family and friends who live in Turkey and she underlined the problems of internet connection while talking to her parents and friends. Because of the lack of perfect connection, she feels like the distance communication gets even more unnatural. She added that even though she can see her loved ones thanks to new technologies she does not feel like the person is in front of her: “I regularly talk to my mom via FaceTime…I hate it when the connection gets lost and my conversation with my mom gets interrupted. It’s annoying…When I talk to my mom (via Facetime) she is in front of me but it just does not feel real. The energy is not fully there. But at least we have video calls I am very thankful…I would love to have a teleportation app that teleports my loved ones next to me in just seconds.”

#10 Key Findings

The result of the research process was a list of design principles that were used to guide the final iterations of the project. The principles can be grouped into three main categories: personal, physical and seamless.

This means that the distance communication device should have the option to be personalized, physically flexible and effortless to use.

#11 Inspirations

#12 How might we…

To ideate, I had to ask myself a “how might we” question to reframe my insights to opportunities for design. Asking this question is essential for the design process and it should be wide enough to start ideating but narrow enough to have some helpful boundaries. We use the HMW question because it suggests that a solution is possible and because they offer you the chance to answer them in a variety of ways. A properly framed HMW doesn’t suggest a particular solution but gives you the perfect frame for innovative thinking (8).

I defined my HMW question as: How might we bring more interactivity and emotions to distance communication. I have applied many methods of brainstorming, but one of them was the most efficient and fun one: Reverse thinking. With this method instead of following the ‘normal, logical’ direction of a challenge, you turn it around (or an important element in the challenge) and look for opposite ideas(9). So I have reversed my HMW question to “How might we make distance communication less interactive and less about emotions?”

After brainstorming, I have categorized the ideas and found out that there are several categories when it comes to less interactive and emotionless communication such as social and cultural effects, symbols, notifications, lack of sensations and lack of personalization. I realized that the way we get notified when we start a distance communication can be very little humane when it’s a vibration and it might remove the real-timeliness of the communication.

#13 Brainstorming workshop

To have fresh eyes on the project, IxD.ma 2017 has teamed up IxD.ma 2018 and worked on second-years degree projects together. I have chosen celebrity solving brainstorming since I needed some fun keywords that will inspire me.

The teams have divided into 4 groups and for 3 minutes they have written a celebrity’s or a fictional character’s name per post-it. When 3 minutes were over, each group member had to ask “how this celebrity would solve this HMW” question and had to write one idea per celebrity. They also dot-voted their favorite ideas and presented them to other groups.

In the end, I had many many interesting post-its such as “Steve Jobs would upload the emotions to the cloud.”, “Peter Griffin would spit into the telephone” and “Mother Theresa would touch a human and that human would touch another and at the end, Mother Theresa would touch the receiver through other humans.”When the brainstorming was over I have collected all the post-its and categorized them. I found out that celebrities could be categorized such as religious, political, science, artist, fictional, influencer. This brainstorming helped me to move forward with fresher and more fun eyes.

Revealing the unseen

I believe it is possible to reveal the unseen meanings that hide under digital interactions. We type, we like posts, we send pictures, voice messages with the tip our fingers. We touch to a glass screen all day and we sense nothing but the smooth texture of our screens which lack tactile feedback. What if the surface we touch were dynamic and responsive? They can have a texture and have a temperature, so we could use the surface as a subtle reminder of the last time we have communicated a contact on our phones. Warmth can indicate that you have recently communicated the contact and cold can symbolize the opposite. So when you interact with the surface it would get warmer while giving you instant and meaningful feedback. Another unnatural characteristic of digital communication is a notification. The way we get notified for a call or for a message is very artificial. We hear some mechanical sounds or feel the vibration when we get notified by our mobile phones. what if it could be more than that. For different types of messages, we can receive different types of notifications. For example, if we are getting notified from a contact that we have lost connection the notification first can be cold -symbolizing the lack of communication between us- and become warmer and warmer when we start engaging it. So the notifications will come to life and will change their characteristics based on the sender, receiver and the message.

As designers, we are destinated to discover a problem and to solve it. I believe that, while creating new design solutions we also produce new problems. Today what is considered as the solution will become tomorrow’s designer's problem to tackle. To break the loop we need to look at the bigger scale of how our design solutions will create the future and change human lives. Technology helps us to have faster and more efficient communication; while hiding meanings behind digital interactions. I believe if we can unlock these hidden meanings, we can cultivate our human nature.

#14 Narrowing down

Goal

In my MA Degree Project, I would like to investigate how interaction design can help to envision a tangible communication device for users that experience a physical gap.

Problem statement

Instant messaging, often shortened to IM or IM’ing, is the exchange of near real-time messages through a stand-alone application or embedded software. IM sessions usually take place between two users in a private, back-and-forth style of communication(10).

One of the core features of many instant messenger applications is the ability to see whether a friend or co-worker is online and connected through the selected service — a capability known as presence.

IM is one of the most common communication methods for those who experience a physical gap. Even though the proof of presence in IM platforms helps the user to feel connected to their loved ones, the interactions and types of messages are limited. Meaning that users can send audio, video, media, text but these only serve only to one out four of senses: vision. And the interactions are typing, swiping, scrolling. What if there was a device that connects two people and unlocks the limits of these interactions and messages?

Messages

When we experience a physical gap between our loved ones, we want to make sure they are ok, we want to say good morning and good night. Most importantly we want to show that we are here for them. How can we show these messages and not just tell?

“You are here for me... Show me that don’t tell me.”

#15 Ideation

Role-playing as a tool to ideate: Foam sphere

To brainstorm, I have asked an IxD.ma team member to act out and use a foam rubber sphere as it’s a communication device. We imitated a cozy home scene and I acted out as the “sphere” and the tester started with receiving a notification. To notify the user, I used a bag of coffee beans smell. After revealing the smell, the tester had physical contact with the sphere for the first time. Before our ideation, I left the sphere in front of the window sphere it was -2 degrees. My idea was to inform the user with a coldness that she would understand one of her contacts need connection. When she realized the sphere is cold, she did not want to touch it.

A little while later, when the handwritten name of her loved one has appeared on the sphere she quickly grabbed the sphere and hugged it. It was a very natural interaction that I believe wouldn’t have happened if she had received a simple SMS or a Whatsapp message from the same person.

When it comes to sending a message. I told her that there are no limits; so first she bit the sphere and then write on it “I bit your nose :D”. Later on, she explained that this is an inside joke and she would like the receiver to place his sphere on his nose and to feel tester’s exact bite with the same pressure and for the same duration of time.

Sketching as a tool to ideate: Scentimental platform

#16 Sonic interactions

I have participated in a workshop mentored by Haig Armen to explore sonic interactions and to get inspired for my degree project. The challenge of the workshop was to ideate a scenario where two people are communicating non-verbally using sound/music. I have chosen to focus on the sounds we make while we use our mobile phones when we scroll when we type etc. I have realized that I have never thought of the power of sound before in terms of digital interactions. I decided that I want to try best to use audio to enhance my design concept since it is a very strong sensation with many possibilities.

#17 Design Principles

Over the past years, the main focus was to design digital products for limited touchpoints such as PC and mobile touchpoints. Experience design was based on digital screens, thereby humans start to spend more time interacting with their devices instead of interacting with other humans. Now, this is changing; the more technology advances, the more are our experiences with it shifting away from screens into the everyday objects around us.

I’m curious about this change and the overlap of the digital and physical world and try to find out how this overlap affects distance communication. So, I am asking: How might we create a personal communication device with the emotional quality of face to face communication and the capabilities of digital tools? To start designing de concept, I also have updated my design principles and made them more detailed based on the recent findings(11).

1) Create a close collaboration between digital and physical design

The more technology advances, the more are our experiences with it moving away from screens into the everyday objects around us. When designing new communication devices designers should ask: how might we design experiences to connect people, enabled by digital in a physical world?

2) Design for the personal touch

We have two hands and ten fingers and there are so many things that we can feel through them, yet we still feel a cold smooth glassy surface when we want to send a message to a loved one. Touch shouldn’t be limited to swiping, scrolling and tapping. It can generate affection and bond between people; it can indicate the presence and can be used to draw attention to prioritized messages. Enabling a personal touch in the technology is critical — and should be one of the main components of the design.

3) Let your design evoke senses

Designers need to deliver a new generation of experiences enabled by digital that thrill and excite. The coming together of physical and digital design opens up a wealth of new possibilities and opportunities, so it is time to design experiences that will evoke sensations and will engage users in many different ways.

First iteration

Mood via texture

A smart ring synced to your smartphone with an app. This ring will connect you to your loved one with tangible communication. First, your smartphone will detect your mood based on your digital activities such as songs listened to, sleep hours, physical activities and the ring will detect your heartbeat. All these data combined will create your and your partner’s mood, and it will form the texture of the smart ring. Your ring’s texture will show your partner’s mood and vice versa. This would give an opportunity to realize if your partner needs your presence so that you can remind them that you are thinking & supporting them.

If by chance you both touch the ting at the same time, you will feel your partner’s heartbeat through the ring.

Sending and receiving a message

For the set-up, the app will ask you questions to understand your personality and it will need you to agree on the interaction for sending messages. (The interaction can be anything and you can change it later.) Whenever you apply this interaction to the ring, your partner’s ring will get warm, indicating the receiving of the message.

The message can mean anything based on the context. Maybe you just want to say “Good morning”, “Good luck!” or just “Hey I am here for you.” When one of the partners is sleeping or not wearing the ring, it will have a smooth texture indicating that there is not enough data to create a texture.

Writing mode

When you want to send a text message to your partner, simply relocate the ring to your index finger and write your message on any surface. The ring will detect your movements and will transfer the text into a digital text. Your partner will receive both warmness through their ring and notification through the app. When you send a message you will also send your location to your partner allowing to create a “moments map” in the app.

Refinement of the concept

Touch as a conversation starter

When we are experiencing face to face communication, it is more natural to start a conversation, it can be eye contact, a gentle smile or a subtle touch on the shoulder; but when we are in different physical places we start the conversation with texts, notifications or with call requests. Thanks to this ring, once the sender sends their message with a squeeze, the receiver will feel the same squeeze. This means the duration, the pressure and the position of the squeeze will also be transferred to the receiver. So the receiver can understand is the message urgent or can they check it later etc.

Handwritten messages

For the ring to reconstruct a dynamic 2D representation of finger movements, and to send the touch via Bluetooth a connection to a smartphone is needed.

To enhance the connection for those who experience a physical gap, location will be visible for the handwritten messages. When a message is sent via touch ring -unless the option is turned off- it will record the location sent.

The ring will record the finger movements and transfer them into dynamic 2D representation. This representation will be sent as a snapshot to the receiver. This means that the receiver will be able to see the whole movements and not just a static image.

As mentioned before, the squeeze will be the send button for this concept. When the sender is ready to send their message they will have to squeeze their ring and the receiver will feel that squeeze. In the app, within the message details, the duration and the strength of the squeeze will also be shown to the receiver This will allow the receiver to give more meaning to the message even if they could not fully feel the squeeze.

The personal touch ring is my experiment to capture attention to humanizing communication in a digital era. It is meant as a tool to imagine new ways and behaviors to empower the connection between two people and to close the long-distance gap through the personal touch. Please see more on neslihazal.com or on IxDA 2020 shortlist.

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