Initial ideas – Distant Body

The Distant Body: Communicating while apart.

Link to slides:

I took the theme of distant body to mean communicating physically while apart, and I was taking a look at how COVID has led to a lot of changes in how we interact with each other. And the truth is that since practicing social distancing, the lack of physical touch has led to touch deprivation, which can impact people on a psychological and physical level. (

I have some ideas that address this theme of distant bodies: by finding new ways in which we can communicate while being apart and still feel connected physically. These ideas are still in their initial stages where I look to develop further, but I am leaning towards idea #2.

Brief initial ideas:

Idea #1: Expressive Pillow 

I want to take a look at how I could give a physical element to video calls because even though we are still able to video call and see the other person in real time, we still lack the sensation of touch. This is why I would like to make a device that enables a person to “feel” as another person talks.

Input: Audio, Processing
Output: Vibrations, Arduino

How it works is that there will be vibration motors placed in a neck pillow, and based on audio inputs from the caller, the vibrations will vary accordingly. The sound aspect will be detected from the laptop and done through Processing, and the output with Arduino.


  • Processing & Arduino
  • Vibration motors
  • Adafruit haptic motor driver
  • Laptop (as a audio input)

Low fidelity prototype:

  • Testing vibration motor wrapped in fabric with Arduino
  • Testing different vibration modes that motor produces. (Adafruit_DRV2605 Library)
  • Linking with sound

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Idea #2: Pair of Objects

Looking at communication as a sensorial experience:

A pair of identical devices that allow people to communicate without having to text/call, that gives a fuss-free way of sending a thought/message instantly.

How it works is that when a person squeezes an object, the other object lights up and vibrates. (The form of the object is still undecided, but I would like it to rest on a table.) 

I would also like to use Wekinator for the machine learning aspects to distinguish various states that will affect light&vibration in the device. For example, if you squeeze the device twice, the light/vibrations would change as opposed to if you just lightly squeeze the device.

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Input: force sensitive resistor sensor
Output: vibration, light

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  • Arduino
  • Wekinator (to distinguish various states -> affect light/vibration)
  • Force sensitive resistor sensor
  • Vibration motor

Low fidelity prototype:

  • Testing on a stress ball – FSR sensor & vibration motor
  • Distinguishing different scenarios with Wekinator (contextualise and develop further)

TfCD Smart Stress Ball : 6 Steps - Instructables

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Stress Ball In Action Sending Data! – Musical Stroke Project

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