Designing communication technologies for couples to support touch over distance

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-07-11
Identifier: 
etd10228
Keywords: 
Long Distance Relationships
Intimacy
Haptic
Touch
Vibrotactile
Gloves
Tangible
Wearable.
Abstract: 

Many couples live apart due to work, educational situations, or frequent travel. While technology can help mediate these relationships, there is a lack of designs that allow couples to share a sense of touch over distance. I present a design case study of a tangible communication system called Flex-N-Feel—a pair of gloves that allows distance-separated couples to feel the flexing of their remote partners’ fingers through vibrotactile sensations on their skin. I evaluated this design with nine couples where the system was augmented with either a Skype audio call or a video connection. This study showed that participants enjoyed their conversation more with the gloves, felt more emotionally connected, and experienced intimate moments together. Couples used the glove for shared actions, playful episodes, intimate touches, and to simply feel each other’s presence. Video was important to aid couples in understanding each other’s actions. The results illustrate that designs focusing on physical touch over distance should be open to improvisation and likely support appropriation such that they can augment existing communication routines and technologies.

Document type: 
Thesis
Rights: 
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes. Copyright remains with the author.
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Carman Neustaedter
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.
Statistics: