Project Two - Long Distance Relationship
Connecting Distance-Separated Intimates
Motivation: Social networks bring so-called friends together, but there are surprisingly little designs that let two distance-separated intimates stay in touch. Usually, such people just use standard communication tools: phones, email, instant messengers, etc.
Solution: Design, implement, document, and demonstrate a system comprising of an information appliance and a cellphone. The system should help two people in a relationship stay in touch.
Personas: Inspire a design from two people you are familiar with, using personas based on these two people.
Full outline available [here at the CPSC 581 course website].
Ten years and going ~
Bryan – “If I need to, I’ll get it done.”
Bryan is a 2nd year engineering student in his mid-20’s, with a degree in immunology. He also has experience in web-design, computer hardware, and networking. He stays up-to-date with the latest technology and gadgets. In his spare time, he plays many video games on his PC and PS4. He also enjoys mountain biking outside of the city. He is able to navigate advanced settings and controls, but appreciates simple designs and things that just work. He enjoys using Apple products, and owns a MacBook Pro, as well as an iPhone 6. He has upgraded his iPhone from previous versions twice.
Bryan has been in a relationship with Joanne since grade 10, and they keep in touch with phone calls, Skype video chat, or just plain messaging. Throughout both of his degrees, he has been studying in another city as Joanne. It takes 3 hours to drive, and he occasionally visits her on the weekends.
Bryan is thrifty on a daily basis, but is willing to spend the money if he thinks something is worth the cost. To him, a product is worth it if he uses it regularly, and it’s functional. An exception to this rule is something that Joanne likes. He will go to great lengths to acquire Hello Kitty dolls to add to Joanne’s massive collection.
- Age 25
- In a long-term relationship with Joanne
- Studies immunology and mechanical engineering
- Logical thinking
- Tech-savy, interested in latest technologies
- Can adapt well to new products
- Solves problems efficiently
- Maintain a balance between relationship, school, and health
- Find time for himself
Joanne – “Have you seen the last episode yet?”
Joanne is in her mid-20’s, pursuing medical studies after acquiring a health sciences degree. She is fairly oblivious to technology, and often asks Bryan for help. Outside of school, she works as an optometry assistant. In her spare time, she enjoys watching foreign dramas and local series, as well as music and fashion shows. Before leaving home to study, she often baked small desserts with or for Bryan.
When it comes to shopping, Joanne is more about the bags and clothes rather than the latest electronics. She does a lot of browsing online, and is adept at using her Macbook for school and watching shows online. She is almost always online late into the night, be it on Facebook, Skype, or mobile chat apps.
Joanne treats her electronics as fashion items more than anything else, and has a pink cover on her Macbook. She recently upgraded to the iPhone 6 as well (having had previous iPhones), and also has a case for her phone. Beyond just looks however, she does consider the usefulness of an item before purchasing it. As a huge fan of Hello Kitty, she clearly wants many Hello Kitty merchandise; because they’re not very useful, she is still reluctant to buy them.
- Age 25
- In a long-term relationship with Bryan
- Studies health sciences and optometry
- Instinctive, impulsive
- Uses technology for media and communications
- Finish schooling and find a job
- Stay connected with friends
- Maintain a separation between school and “me-time”
I interviewed my clients (who formed the basis for my personas) once more to identify their main concerns with long-distance relationships.
Below are some of the attributes and problems they highlighted, which I found helpful:
- Turns off notifications when studying
- Skips class
- Sleeps in
- Doesn't like always-on connectivity
- Always has phone
- Always connected to social media, chat apps
- Like short messages
- Often has trouble contacting Bryan when he's studying
- Likes being more personal as opposed to abstracted feel
View the embedded image gallery online at:
Rough sketchesTo help Bryan and Joanne keep in touch, I wanted to make something they would use often and regularly. I started with ideas of things I used everyday: alarm clock, lights, toaster, fridge, TV, etc. I liked the alarm clock because it gets used everyday, both in the morning and at night. It's like being able to begin and end the day with the other person.
RefinementsI got good feedback for remotely activating the alarm clock, as well as a simple notification system which meant, "I am looking for you!" The alarm clock is useful for Bryan because he always oversleeps. The notifications will let Joanne contact Bryan even when he has his phone off during studying. It's unobtrusive, but helps to maintain communication between the two lovebirds. Since lack of communication is often cited as the main problem in relationships, I really liked this feature. I tried some ideas for materials, looks, and enclosures to make the prototype more aesthetically pleasing.
Combining/Refining top ideasI tried to refine the alarm clock, notification, and voice message features into a feasible prototype; something which I can actually see myself building given the cost considerations.
Prototype sketchI ended up with a design which had a photo frame, as well as a little figure which notified the user of new messages. The figure also acts as a switch for the alarm, which the remote user is able to activate through the phone interface.
remote activated alarm // voice messages // background image can be set remotely