project at kth royal institute of technology
2021, Sweden

The project explores how fidgeting can be used as a way to communicate with loved ones at a distance. Texting or speaking over the phone only allows for a limited understanding of each other’s emotional state, whereas wearable interactive objects that register the fidgeting behaviour of the person wearing it could offer a new dimension of expressing one’s mood to a partner or friend. To explore this space, we designed a pair of wearable smartwatches that captured specific fidgeting behaviours and communicated that as colours to the partner’s device.

Iterated throughout the entire design cycle, utilised different design methods, and finished the final prototype from the first setup with teammates. Focused and responsible for mainly interaction design and technology aspects.

Arduino, Conductive fabric with Velostat, 3D printer, Laser cutter

Positive Feedback from Examiner and Crit Sessions (P)

ThingCon 2021
Selected Project

Group Members
Jason Huang, Annetta Sillard & Leonardo Rignanese

Video Editing
Jason Huang

With the theme "fidgeting" being set by the instructor, we noticed a common interest in working with devices that would help people stay connected in long-distance relationships during a brainstorming session. Then, we came up with three different concepts and used the Six Thinking Hats method to help us evaluate and decide. After getting some more detailed thoughts, we decided that the most interesting way of interaction and fidgeting for our core concept is to use buttons and pressure that translates emotions into visual signals.

Subsequently, we narrowed down the usage scenario and target users, then defined our idea to be a wearable used within 1 to 1 romantic relationships focusing on shared signals useful to acknowledge each other.

We then started with some Idea Sketching and also set a vision while prototyping.

To explore mapping emotions with colours, we based the communication on previous work, then used Arduino with LED and a button for the first interaction: whenever the button was pressed expeditiously (multiple times that exceeds the threshold within a set timeframe), the light changes from green to blue to indicate a more displeasure feeling.

The second fidget element is the wristband with a pressure sensor. We used two pieces of conductive textiles and a piece of Velostat between them. The interaction is to quantify the pressure on the band that translates to arousal, adding more red to the colours green and blue when it is being pressed harder.

To make the prototype ready for demo, we iterated through our setup again but did not have the time to connect two devices wirelessly and with batteries within. However, the solution of inserting the LED from one device to the other simulated two devices connected with each other well for the purpose. Therefore, accepting and prioritising the best outcome that could be achieved with limited resources, which is always the case, seems as important as knowing what could be done better, especially when working with hardware where a change could lead to a total rebuild.

To demonstrate our device publicly, we transferred everything to Arduino UNO and try to get as close to our vision as possible. We first measured and calculated all the dimensions, but soldering on a small device in a precise manner was an uneasy task that required careful handling. We also sewed two pieces of leather together with the conductive textiles and Velostat within, but due to the pressure created by making things fit, the performance was not ideal. Therefore, we later added a layer of foam between, with different patterns that also connected with the fidgeting theme. Moreover, we paid great attention to details like having a piece of acrylic on the top of the watch face, allowing the LED light to shine through while hiding all the electronics. To make the button be pressed down gently from the watch face, we also laid some cubes of foams for ideal feedback.