I worked with a team of 4 to create a prototype for a long-distance relationship mixed reality system, made with the purpose of establishing emotional connection even when separated. I worked on research, ideation, and fleshing out the voice and tone for the voice user interface (VUI).
The inspiration for this project came from our own experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. The four of us found ourselves in long-distance romantic relationships as a result of being quarantined. We knew firsthand how difficult it was to communicate and find times of connection when separated by long distances, and wanted to create a design to alleviate the feelings of distress that resulted from this unfortunate circumstance.
We asked participants: what objects remind you of your long distance significant other?
We conducted interviews and autoethnographies to understand the emotional complexities of long-distance relationships. Through artifact analysis, we concluded that the most painful aspect of these relationships is the lack of physical presence, which could be replicated in part through physical objects and digital interactions.
Because we wanted to embody physical presence through our design response, we decided to explore the possibility of using VR to provide a space for emotional connection. We created a journey map to illustrate what an ideal use case would look like.
VOICE USER INTERFACE
My initial idea for the voice user interface was Melody, who would be in charge of playing music for both parties, based on the perceived mood of each user.
At first, Melody was just a music assistant. However, we decided to expand the role of the voice assistant. The final iteration of the voice assistant was Dovey, who also verbally determines the user's mood and helps to manage the VR space.
This was my first remote UX project, and it was quite difficult to schedule due to life upheavals due to COVID-19. I learned to be more of a leader and encouraged everyone to meet when necessary. This was also my first time designing the details of a voice user interface, and I found that I really enjoy thinking about how words and their tone can shape the user's experience. Because long distance relationships constitute such a tender and personal design space, I found that kindness and empathy can go a long way in making technology beneficial for everyone involved.
Created for Design 372: Interface Design II