An Internet of Things Flower
6 billion devices are connected to the internet — lights, teddy bears, refrigerators. Although some of the 6 billion devices are trivial the larger idea of connecting the physical and digital world is incredibly exciting.
The highest potential of connected devices lies in emotional experiences. After all its emotional experiences that humans seek, we find equilibrium connecting with one another (See Yuval Noah Harari on gossiping). Connecting is what the internet already does — it connects us to information (Google), movies and entertainment (Netflix), and hundreds of millions of products(Amazon), news (Twitter), but it’s weak in the realm of connecting humans to feelings. Thus, I was curious to explore how might IoT enable emotive experiences over long distance.
How to a send a feeling…
Feelings are complicated (ex: The Notebook) and I was intimidated by the thought of trying to simplify a feeling. How could I package something as complex as a feeling to send across the Internet? Feelings are invoked by artifacts, I just had to find the right one.
First, I observed my interactions with people closest to me — what feelings lingered and what catalyzed each one?
Laughter caused by dumb jokes, ‘content-ness’ caused by embraces and warmth, happiness caused by dinners and whimsical moments, and love caused by surprises.
Second, I looked for inspiration in what already exists:
- The Apple watch sends a heartbeat
- A glove that simulates touch and hand holding
- A pillow that also shares a heartbeat
- The telepresence robots
- 360 degree virtual experience to share SO’s view point
I tried bubbles to share happiness, a popsicle stick with a new joke for laughter, and I tried to share smell (which definitely didn’t work).
I was drawn to flowers because they’re already a universal symbol of love and appreciation. When I talked with a friend who have received flowers she said that “I’m more excited about getting flowers than for the flowers”.
“If you love a flower, don’t pick it up. Because if you pick it up it dies and it ceases to be what you love. So if you love a flower, let it be. Love is not about possession. Love is about appreciation.” -Osho
- I also needed a special arm and mount to simulate blooming. I created a part in autoCAD and after several prints it fit perfectly.
- I still wanted it to be living. Feelings are alive so the medium should be as well. I waterproofed the electronics and planted flowers in the base.
- I also had a screen attached to deliver a love note that often comes with flowers.
Function and Form
At the touch of an Amazon Dash button the flower blooms and a message on the screen appears. The flower remains bloomed for a few hours before resetting.
Love Delivered is similar to emojis in text conversations. Emoji’s aren’t the conversation but once and awhile they make all the difference in the meaning of a message. When there’s room for misinterpretation of a message, a🤗 reinforces the senders original intent. (More on Emojis from A16Z) Love delivered adds clarity to a long distance relationship. It adds a touch that may make all the difference in the given day.