Master's Thesis

Hold me tight: Exploring a tangible interface and its suitability of mediating closeness to overcome physical separation


Carina Gansohr

Processing Period:

08.04.2015 - 08.10.2015



The aim of this master thesis is to explore and investigate the target group of physically separated loved ones in order to find a technological solution to increase a feeling of closeness over a distance. This study follows a User Experience design approach with the purpose to create a novel and sense appealing Tangible User Interface. Based on literature review the initial concept of an interactive pillow allowing intimate voice message exchange over a distance is elaborated. The pillow shape is meant to provoke a relaxed and reflective ambience in which dedication for one another can be revealed by giving special interest to the pillow’s integration in the familiar and inherently intimate going-to-bed ritual. This concept idea is then implemented resulting in a working proof of concept prototype which incorporates and emphasizes the comfortable and cozy characteristic of the going-to-bed ritual. A qualitative study based on a combination of cultural probes and interviews is conducted to investigate its applicability for two main target groups; couples living in Long-Distance Relationships and hospitalized children who are separated from their families at home. The here presented initial findings indicate that the core idea of the pillow concept is successful in the matter of providing an appealing solution to help loved ones to feel closer over a geographical distance. Users are able to slow down, to feel warm and safe and to compose messages meant to express support, consolation, love and appreciation. Further improvement suggestions with special emphasis on technical and usability criteria are elaborated. A prospect on future research to further investigate new possibilities and additional values for the target group based on the pillow concept is finally given.