What Is E-mories?

E-mories is a distraction-free physical platform to remotely share personal emotions with close friends and family. With E-mories you can record and send short messages with close ones. This can be people you can't get to see because of distance, friends or family you miss or simply just your bestie that you want to stay in touch with.

With the E-mories ball you can record a message to send. You can talk about anything from how your day was to how sick you are of the pandemic, to a beautiful butterfly you saw today, or a good memory from that time you went on a roadtrip together. The idea is that you can share whatever you want, preferrably something with a positive vibe, but it can also be venting, or anything in between.

After recording, you can choose a colour that goes with your message, whichever colour you think is suitable. When you've found your desired colour and are happy with your message, its time to send! The ball you are connected with (your friend, a family member or similar) will then light up in the colour you seleceted, and they can choose to listen to your message!

The group has been working with the domain emotional intelligence, and we are looking at how we can use communication and reflection to enhance self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy and social skills.

Demonstration, how does it work?

Interaction Flow

The following demonstrates the physical flow of the final product, the different parts of it and how it relates to each other.

Decription of interaction with the concept. The user records a message, selects a colour for it and then sends the message. All done with a device in the shape of a ball

My Part of the Final Product

My part of the concept has been the colour selection. As the video illustrates, the interacion involves rotating the ball to select a colour, and then adjust the brightness of this colour with the same rotation. Both times, the user has to squeeze the ball to lock in the colour, which is followed by a vibration in the ball.

The intention is for the user to reflect upon what mood they think their message is conveying, and then map that to a colour they find suitable. This allows for self-reflection on the message that they are sending, and can help the user visualise or make tangible their emotions. When the receiving user sees the colour they have chosen, this can indicate the mood of the message.

As a part of the domain, emotional intelligence, my part of the concept is looking particularly on how we can use self-reflection as a tool when communicating. When the user are to select a colour, they are forced to think about what mood their message is sending, which can improve on the overall emotional intelligence relating to social skills and self-awareness.

The Design process

The full concept was divided into four different parts by the beginning of the semester. My focus has been the colour selection; helping the user select a colour that they think fits the mood of the message. The initial concept included a shake of the ball, that gave the user a random colour, and the idea was that they could shake this until they found their desired colour.

With the shake, I researched three things: 1) What would be the most used colours (so that these could be displayed first), 2) how sensitive should the shake be and 3) what method would make most sense for the users to adjust the colour that they found when shaking. The most used colours was found through a diary study, and I then proceeded to investigate different shake applications to adjust the shake sensitivity. I did informal chats with friends, peers and teaching staff to investigate what interaction would make sense to adjust the colour for the third research point.

Ultimately, I ended with rotation of the ball to find a colour to be the most suitable interaction form. It was discovered that the shake was a tedious process and that it made the users feel like they were not in control, which caused me to remove the shake-interaction. Although results were split, I found that a rotation of the wrist to select colour to be a form of interaction that made sense for the users. The new rotation allowed for the users to find a colour they were happy with themselves, and then adjust the colour brightness further. I chose to incorporate a squeeze as a way of locking the colour to tie better with the interaction forms used by the other team members.

Deisgn journey. From colour shake to adjustments that led to wrist rotation and squeeze to determine colour

Technical Details

The prototype is built up of different sensors and wires, and a christmas decoration ball used as a shell. The ball is lightly polished with sandpaper to reduce the visibility of what is inside. The sensors inside the ball is consisting of:

I'm using a library called MPU6050_tocken (can be found here) to calculate the angle values of the accelerometer. Then, each value (x, y and z) are mapped into RGB-values and displayed with the NeoPixel Light strip. A flex sensor then detects if its values are below a predetermined threshold, which means a squeeze has been detected. If a squeeze is detected, the program triggers the vibration motor to start and then stop, which imitates a vibration feedback. Once this is done, I'm calculating the full movement by adding together the x, y and z values and transferring this to a value that can be used to adjust the brightness of the determined colour.

My full code can be found on github here, and the team code combined can be found here.

Image of the technical clutter the prototype is built up of. Not including the shell (the christmas decoration ball).

Project Outcomes - Was The Project Successful?

Whether the project was successful or not depends on which angle you want to view it from.

Did we manage to create a prototype that demonstrates the intention of the project?
Yes. The balls we have individually created demonstates the intended interaction and works for the users to get an idea of the concept.

Did I manage to create an interaction metaphor for selecting a colour that make sense for the users?
I tested and refined the concept several times, and believe I have come up with something that makes more sense to the users than the original idea. However, the execution of this interaction is somewhat unstable and the sensitivity might not be just right.

Did we as a team manage to create and test a full experience of the whole concept?
No. Putting together the pieces was more time consuming than anticipated and we were never able to test the experience as a whole. There are potential gaps in the full experience that we never thought of as individuals working with different sections.