Designing communication technologies for couples to support touch over distance

Resource type
Thesis type
(Thesis) M.Sc.
Date created
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.
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Scholarly level
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Neustaedter, Carman
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etd10228_SSinghal.pdf 67.2 MB