Current video chat systems such as Skype afford high quality of auditory and visual information by allowing users to communicate anytime and anywhere. However, affectionate touch which plays an important role in child social-emotional development is filtered out of the process during video conversation. In order to address this issue, this thesis explores the quality of thermal stimulation as a metaphor for physical intimacy in remote interaction between parents and child through a prototyping approach to fully understand potential benefits and experiences of thermal messages in interpersonal communication. The findings from a qualitatively focused methodological approach describe how the users appropriate the thermal wearable communication system and experience heat cues. My analysis reveals values of thermal information in interpersonal communication and suggests how future thermal applications could be designed to augment distant communication patterns in parent-child relationship.
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Thesis advisor: Schiphorst, Thecla
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