A THINGM TECHNOLOGY SKETCH™
LoveM is a Technology Sketch of an augmented box of chocolates that displays personal memories on an LCD screen as chocolates are removed from the box. It attempts to evoke joy and surprise through the use of available, inexpensive technology embedded into a familiar object. It investigates what happens when we put technology in a non-utilitarian, non-game context and explores the ideas of introducing personal, intimate content into an otherwise mass-produced product.
WHY A BOX OF CHOCOLATES?
Chocolate boxes have an iconic social resonance as gifts in Western culture. An everyday luxury, they represent deep emotion, yet they are mass-produced. Like greeting cards, they come in a huge assortment of sizes, colors, brands, styles and prices to allow the giver to select just the right emotional and social nuances. Still, none ever say much more than “I care for you.” LoveM uses personal digital photos to create an additional channel for the giver to say what they feel, since personal photos intimately connect to the relationship in a way that none of the other pre-made qualities can.
The design space where technology and emotion intersect is relatively uncharged. However, if LG feel they can tap into the emotional resonance of chocolate when naming a consumer electronic product (their latest phone) after it, maybe we can go the other way?
HOW DOES IT WORK?
LoveM is essentially a battery-powered LCD photo frame. The display in the center is a standard backlit LCD display covered by a heart-shaped mask. Pictures are pulled from a memory card installed into a slot in the back of the box (though maybe some kind of wireless connection could work, too–our prototype, in fact, pulls the photos down over Wifi). To preserve battery life, the LCD display is not triggered until the box top is opened, at which point it plays a pre-installed video with a default message. As each chocolate is removed, a small pressure switch instructs the display to move to the next image. After all of the chocolates have been eaten, the box becomes a digital picture frame that rotates through all of the images, preserving the images as a reminder of the event.
WHAT’S A TECHNOLOGY SKETCH?
As part of our product development process, ThingM creates Technology Sketches, which are examples of early stage conceptual approaches to how a product might work, rather than actual fully-functional systems. We believe in lightweight, agile, user-centered product development, which means that we focus on users’ experiences first and technological details later. We prefer to explore ideas first without the constraints of technological limitations, before we create technologies to address those limitations. Our Technology Sketches document that process, the kinds of ideas we have, and how we develop them. We are continuing to develop the ideas and technologies at the core of LoveM. The final product that uses those ideas may not resemble what is in the sketch, but the sketch will have been an important part of the development process, and one we share because we feel that others may benefit from it.
If you are interested in this technology sketch and would like to work with us to develop this technology further, please contact us.