A SENSE OF PRESENCE
The strength of an emotional bond between partners and loved ones is often threatened by absence. However, absence can also be enjoyable and satisfying; a sweet sorrow allowing a re-affirmation of a bond by reflecting on a fond moment.
This project explores the revisiting of an emotional bond through designed interactions that replicate life's valued moments. These take the form of personal indirect 'traces' which represent of exaggerate a partners habitual activity.
These interactions act as triggers to reconnect emotionally with a person, relieving absence by simulating a sense of presence: the bringing of persons closer together and suddenly back into consciousness.
"Absence makes the heart grow fonder".
The rapid acceleration of globalised systems over recent decades has encouraged nomadic lifestyles. Travel is now a common part of many jobs with the number of global commuters rising. Our ability to serve a relationship by connecting to partners emotionally becomes difficult when they are geographically dispersed. This project uses a series of designed interactions to relieve and prevent a feelings of disconnection.
The diagram [right] shows various degrees of separation, from short to long-term examples with the final degree being total disconnection.For each stage an intervention has been designed that meets users' needs by
simulating the presence of a partner, bringing them back into consciouness and emotionally reconnecting them.
"Presence is important, not having to make the effort to communicate but not worrying that you have to!"
"Comfortable silence means zoning-out and sychronising, concentrating on how you feel with a person at that moment, you can't do this on the phone."
PROBLEM & SOLUTION:
A personal domestic product that plugs into sockets throughout the home, recording the background noise of a space and the activity of a person within it. When partners are separate or have little time to spend personally with each another, the noisebox delivers familiar personally recorded soundscapes to ease brewing tensions.
"I miss the comfortable silence, the feeling of something 'unsaid' between you without the need for words, as you move around each other".
Anthony and Clio are a young couple living together but due to contrasting shift times they see very little of each other; jeopordising their ability to regularly connect.
After some time, feelings of loneliness set in. When eating his breakfast Anthony uses the Background Noise Box to switch on the sound of Clio taking a shower before work.
To show his appreciation for Clio's noise message earlier that morning, Anthony reciprocates by recording himself that evening in the living room enjoying reading his new book.
When Clio arrives home from work, feelings of loneliness overcome her. She switches on the Noise Box to find the new recording which warms her heart and comforts her.
02. THE STUBBLE PLUG
The iconic black rubber plug with a twist. A layer of black coal tar soap covers the top acting as a perfect binding and releasing agent for a partners stubble; a suprising and ammusing moment.
"I would always regard his stubble around the sink as annoying but when he is away and the sink stays clean, I sort of miss it...".
Louis and Clark have lived together for some time. Clark likes to look clean and tidy; trimming his beard every evening but forgetting to clean the stubble he leaves around the edge of the sink.
Clark regularly goes away on business. Before leaving to catch a flight he collects his stubble from the plug-hole filter and prepares a stubble plug that he leaves on the sink.
That evening when Louis gets ready for bed she uses the plug to fill a basin of water and begins washing her face.
When she releases the plug to drain the water, a ring of Clark's stubble litters the sink, bringing a smile to her face as she remembers her partners little habits.
03. THE SYNC SEAT
A 'twinned' loo seat linking geographically dispersed partners that replicates toilet seat activity between two partners' homes Sensors monitor the seats activity, if the seat has been left up sensors recognise this and a motorised hinge mechanism lifts the twinned seat. Similarly if a partner has been sitting on the seat, the twinned seat responds by slowly warming the heat pads underneath it.
"Funnily enough I don't really mind when he leaves the seat up. He's away so often for work that it's proof that he's been here."
Harry and Sally have lived together for some time and have learnt to enjoy each others personal habits. When harry's jo moves to London they adopt the use of the Sync Seat.
The synchronised loo seat plays on Harry's habit of always forgetting to leave the seat down; a habit that follows him to his London home.
Back home Sally sees her loo seat rise - a habit that would normally irritate her but with Harry away she remembers his funny habit which brings a wry smile to her face.
Harry wakes up and gets ready for work. When sitting down on the loo he notices it feels warm; a sure sign Sally must have recently sat on hers. Harry takes comfort in the feeling of Sally's presence.
04. HOME GROWN
A 'twinned' irrigation system allowing long-term distance partners to personally engage with each other indirectly. Partners would possess similar plants in their homes with irrigation systems monitoring soil moisture. When one plant has been watered, the twinned plant's irrigator artifically waters the partners plant. This gesture is a representation of a users consideration for their partner; performing a necessary household task that will make life easier for their other half.
"You can't share experiences over distance. Even the smallest tasks are impossible which is what gives them their value."
Robin and Marrian are used to a long distance relationship. Robin works on an oil rigg often spending months at sea so they use Home Grown to grow identical plants seperately.
They use the Home Grown system to link themselves and their activity through their plants; the nurturing of each others plants replicating the care they show for each other.
When Robin waters his, a moisture sensor recognises this and sends a message wirelessly to Marian's irrigation device artificially watering her plant for her.
Returning from work, Marian notices her deshevelled plant looking refreshed having been watered by Robin, a comforting gesture indicating he has thought of her.
© 2011 BEN PAWLE