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Using the Internet of Things to Create Cute Long-Distance Interactions

September 3, 2014 | Telepresence Options


Story and images by Joseph Flaherty / WIRED

A child resting their head on a parent's shoulder. A squeeze of the thigh during a scary movie. These silent gestures are are a critical part of the language of love, but no words, or even emoji, can properly capture them. Israeli design student Daniel Sher has recently tried to bring these ephemeral feelings onto the Internet of Things with a collection of designs called Saying Things That Can't Be Said.

The collection takes form in three objects. I'm With You looks like an origami pine cone and acts like a walkie-talkie for heartbeats. One half of a pair holds the object over the heart and the beat is transmitted to the owner of the other half. Sending a Kiss consists of paper specimens that live inside glass chambers and when one is blown on, the other, in the shape of a butterfly, flutters. A final unnamed project summons a flurry of soap bubbles from a wall-mounted dispenser in one location when a distant loved one blows on a pinwheel in another.

The objects are built on the Arduino platform and the exposed wires and sensors help telegraph their interactivity. The material and fabrication choices--silk paper folded like origami, glass, dark walnut, and silver--make the collection feel human and timeless. This is what the Internet of Things would look like in a Jane Austen novel.

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