Design Engineering
Showcase

reU

Student
Ziyu Zhuang
Course
Global Innovation Design
Supervisor
Dr Weston Baxter
Theme
Humanising Technology

With globalization and social mobility, maintaining a long-distance relationship (LDR) with parents becomes a great challenge as people tend to move to big cities, especially for Asian people who emphasize family values more than individual value.

‘reU’, a mutually respectful ‘bi-directionally’ controlled communication system with a physical anthropomorphic product as an embodiment of kinship, allows people to connect with families by sending ‘dynamic 3D emoji’, recording videos or live streaming in terms of their requirements on communicating level and timings. ‘reU’ distinguishes itself with the existing products in the market by allowing both parties (parents and children) to control the timing and level of connection. ‘reU’ creates a relaxing and playful connecting circumstance with mutually respect to each other and encourages people to proactively contact with each other for a sustainable LDR.

 — reU
reU-A system for long-distance communication for Asian parents and children.

Process

The research began with basic background research in terms of social and cultural features and followed by primary research of a diary study and in-depth interviews.

In Asian countries, more and more young adults would leave parental homes and move to big cities. However, as Asian people emphasize much more on family values than individual values, parents care about their children no matter how old they are, which leads to some unwanted intrusions and worries.

By conducting a diary study followed by in-depth interviews with selected families in long-distance relationships, three insights were found. Firstly, in the long-distance communication scenario, parents and children have difficulties in maintaining their old communication rituals because of a lack of common experience and topics. Secondly, rather than sharing information, people desire a greater sense of company not only when they cannot connect with each other, but also when having a video call. Finally, current digital social networking weakens the right of people to protect their privacy from family members as people are expected to ‘always be available to connect’.

By iteratively developing the system and the form of the physical product, an innovative communication system with an anthropomorphic product design was generated.

 — reU
Anthropomorphic exploration.

Outcomes

The final outcome is a mobile app-based family communication system with multiple communication choices (live streaming, video message, 3D dynamic emoji message) for different scenarios cooperated with an anthropomorphic physical product consisting of two modules.By joining in on a family group with a shared group number, people can start to experience the three main functions.When people can’t connect, they can send 3D emojis representing the current state to another party to avoid worries and intrusions.When one party simply stack the camera on the base module to livestream, the other parties in the family group are given permission to watch. Auto mode with motion localization is to free users’ hands to do other work or people can request for controlling others’ cameras to see around.

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