Will Crum
designing for a safer, saner, and more delightful world
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in•touch

It's never been easier to contact someone immediately. Cell phones let us talk, text, video chat—and everything in between—as quickly as we can think of something to say. But when the only friction is human response time, the expectation of immediacy can become a pressure that nags on our subconscious.

So what happens when emojis aren't enough, and words are too much? What happens when I run out of things to say?
How can I more intuitively, tangibly express my affection for loved ones who are far away?

How can I send love?

Born out of a personal frustration with the communication tools available, in·touch is a smart frame that recaptures the sense of shared physical space with loved ones who are far away. It comes as a set of two—one for you, one for that distant someone.

Owners use the companion app to upload images to a shared gallery.

in·touch's home screen is the shared image gallery, where users can manage visibility and comment on each image. Touch the upper right to initiate an upload...

in·touch borrows and streamlines Instagram's upload interface to create a familiar experience that highlights the deliberate limitations: images are always 5x7, and this isn't being posted anywhere besides the frame.

Owners can also use their finger to write a note on the frame's screen, which their distant partner can watch being written in real time. When the screen is full, a simple shake (à la Etch A Sketch) on either end wipes the slate clean on both frames.

But in·touch's most distinguishing feature is proxy touch: When one person touches the frame’s border, the surface of both frames animates to mimic the colors of a thermal body scan. This flash of color on an otherwise white frame catches the eye of the distant partner, prompting them to interact with the frame at the same time. When both users touch the same spot at the same time, a subtle vibration is triggered.

Process