In this day and age, instant communication is a given. This makes long distance relationships more feasible. However, pulling out a phone or your web browser to log onto Facebook isn’t suitable for all situations when you want to send a quick message to your significant other. Additionally, instant communication can even become too routine and not carry a lot of weight. Sometimes novelty needs to be added to a relationship to spice things up.
How could a wearable accessory help with this?
The solution I came up with was a pair of rings that would send messages in the form of flashing light. Rings are one of the most classic accessories as they are a regular addition to one’s outfit although not essential. Many times the choice to wear a ring is for fashion purposes or expressing membership (i.e. University rings) or commitment in a relationship. This seemed like a natural choice for couples to wear as they are gender neutral.
Pressing a button on the ring will make the other person’s ring flash. Couples can make up their own signals to signify what they are feeling or thinking. For example, three short flashes can mean “I wish you were here” or one long pause can mean “I miss you.” This can add some fun to communication and make it more lighthearted, offering a new way for couples to stay connected in a more meaningful way.
Originally, I came up with many different sketches that played with the same inputs and outputs. The ideas that I were drawn to were of those that I wished I could have for myself. In the end, I realized that close to none of my ideas told a story or was as personal as I would have liked.
Out of all the sketches that I drew, I picked the four ones that I felt the most inclined to make.
There was a lot of interest in my ring idea from the people that I talked to. So I decided to go with a form of the ring with buttons instead of interlocking halves or stacking rings on top of the other. I also sketched some different forms of rings such as a signet ring, a normal round ring, etc. The idea of making a necklace instead also crossed my mind. However, I decided on using a wire ring.
I initially wanted to add a vibration motor to the ring to increase the awareness of a message being received. However, the motors that I used did not react well with the hot glue and the wires were pulled off. I then settled for using just lights. The wiring for adding the motors also got quite complicated.
A mishap I had was that the lights were working inversely as to what I wanted. I settled for the lights being constant and the button presses will make the light flash. Another idea I had was to repeat patterns decided by the button pusher made with button pushes to be repeated in a loop however time did not permit for it.
In the end, I wish I could have done more with the ring. It would have been nice to get the vibration motors going to add some more feedback to the users. I am pleased with the interaction overall however and I think a steady stream of light has its advantages over flashes of light (such as it would be more noticeable and it has a nicer overall aesthetic). The simplicity of the ring is one of the advantages as it can be essentially worn anywhere at any time however something more tailored to a specific situation might have been more beneficial.