My partner for this project, Michael Richardson, and I decided to re-imagine a 2014 Red Dot Design Concept winner called Ringing, which aimed to increase communication and passive intimacy between couples using bluetooth-enabled mood rings. Worn like a wedding ring, the device senses heartbeat patterns and temperature to extrapolate mood, which is then viewed via an app by the wearer’s partner and vice versa. We thought the concept was neat, but needed improvement.
For example, the Ringing devices used color to indicate mood, but color-mood mapping models are notoriously non-intuitive. Plus, we found it to be fairly intrusive for partners to be constantly monitoring each other in this manner. In the end, we settled on a bi-modal watch app for couples: when far away, they can use the “love compass” to view their partner’s relative location/distance, and when they are in close proximity to each other, they can watch their heartbeats synchronize.
Note: we used pink and blue to indicate a couple for the purposes of one demo. Color mapping gender can be misleading and love does not discriminate!
The rings on the app visualization get larger as you and your partner get closer to each other until the app switches modes. For example, married couples we talked to indicated a desire to passively determine whether or not their partner was on their way home from work yet. The prototype was created using Quartz Composer and Origami. (Note regarding these tools: I agree with the viewpoints put forth in this article https://medium.com/@lyndonmayer/a-month-spent-prototyping-with-quartz-origami-a37ecd14d99a)
In addition to creating a more passive and subtle way of acknowledging love, we wanted to take advantage of the potential for haptic feedback with the Apple Watch. Some ideas include sending each other “hugs” in the form of vibrations when you open the app to show you’re thinking of him/her or a special signal once your heartbeats are in sync – perhaps playing “your song.” Below are early sketches and mock-ups of the app visuals. In the end, we felt somewhat limited by the tools and timeframe, so we stuck with the ring metaphor.