︎Touch deviation under the social-distancing context;
︎Touch sensation is missing in communication channels for remote lovers;
︎Look for soft and less machine-like touch sensation given by mediated touch technology

Research Question

︎How can a mediated social touch technology with the asynchronous channel enhance social connectedness for remote loved ones?

︎︎︎Research Journey 


Observe & Understand

This phase is to observe and understand the behavior of communication on instant message tools for remote loved ones. Focus on immediacy of communication, the results helped to define the problems and look for design opportunites of synchronous/asynchronous communication for loved ones.

︎Diary Study
︎Semi-structured interviews

  • Myself, as the real user, has been observed first
  • 3 individual participants and 3 pair participants joined the study
  • Logbook for daily online communication with one close friend/partner, 3~5 days

Focus points:
  • Behavior and feelings of immediate/asynchronous response
  • Behavior and feelings of starting/ending conversation
  • Comparison of feelings for text/ audio/video-based channel
  • Relation between self, phone and remote partner

Selected quotes from user research︎︎︎ 
︎ Key Takeaways
01. Users have the common sense that messages are expected to respond promptly under the social norm
02. Partial presence in the mediated communication could result the feeling of disconnection for the others
03. The asynchronous could generate the guilt but may create the spark of connection
04. Notification > messages, as a signal of affection
05. Video-based channel may cause strong feelings of separation after it ends
06. Communication tool could be the presence of the remote lover

Define: carving out the design directions

︎Communication Experience

  • Focus on asynchronous channel to support affective communication
  • Resolve the social pressure generated by expectations of immediate responseProvide the calm and pleasant communication experience
  • Enhance the feeling of connection

︎Touch Experience

  • Implement soft tactile sensation into the mediated touch technology
  • Reduce intrusiveness from mediated touch
  • Reduce the visual workload in the mediated communication
  • Provide ambiguous but understandable information from touch message

︎︎︎System overview