December 2009

Spending too much time at the studio has made a number of us long for free time to spend with friends, family, and the people we love. The Touchstone is the result of a physical computing project investigating the communication between people separated by the obligations of school or work.

Touchstone was a group project with Angela Huang and Jeff Kirsch.

The Touchstone responds to the touch of a human hand. Placing your hand on one of the devices causes both of them to respond with light. When your significant other notices their Touchstone illuminating, he or she can place their hand on their device with the knowledge that you are there. When both devices receive attention, they glow with the rhythm of a heartbeat.

It’s like holding hands over the internet.

The prototypes we created are based on the Arduino micro controller platform, the XBee radio, and capacitative sensors. The physical forms use various materials and shapes to remind the user what it was like to have human contact. The Arduino source code can be found here.