Duo for Couples

Physical Prototyping • Arduino • 3D rendering • UX

Duo for Couples

Physical Prototyping • Arduino • 3D rendering • UX

Duo is a set of sphere devices for long-distance couples that can communicate non-verbal signal to each other.

This is my final project for the AKQA creative technologist apprenticeship program. We were asked to create anything we are interested in, that could showcase our design and technical skills. I've been always fascinated by connected devices that can talk to each other wirelessly, so I decided to create a set of devices that could mimic each other’s behaviors as a way for long-distance couples to send subtle non-verbal messages.

Software / Hardware: Processing, Arduino, Spacebrew, sensors, webcam

Process: Research, Concepting, 3D rendering, Physical + Digital Prototyping.


Pain Points

When you are in a relationship, you always want to be able to know what your significant other is thinking, and whether they are thinking about you. It’s especially common in a long distance relationship. Even though there’s Facebook and Skype that let you send messages or video chat with your significant other, there are still some pain points to solve.

1. Difficult to get on hold of their schedule
2. Hard to agree on a time to meet virtually
3. Lack of physical and non-verbal expressions


I draw inspirations from products such as "Tap Tap", "Feel Me", and "Pillow Talk". They all used haptic feedback or visual cue as a way to send messages, which is what I was aiming to achieve.

“How might we better connect long distance couples, and enhance non-verbal communication in a playful way?”



My final product is called Duo - a device that is intimate to interact with, and help connect couples in a playful way. It comes in pair, one for each individual, like a representation of your significant other. It’s a combination of a night lamp, an egg, and a role poly.

Key Features

There are three key features: 1. Sleep lighting, 2. Color shifting, 3. Nudging. You can put your hand on top of the device to turn it on and off, and at the same time the indication light on the other device will turn on and off. You can show color to the device to change the color for both devices, for example if you are feeling blue today you can show it a blue color so your significant other will see the blue color and know how you are feeling. You can also push the device to make the other device blinking and vibrating, showing that you want to talk to your signficant other or you want to video chat with him/her.



For my next steps, I want to integrate the device with an App that can track your interactions. It’s like a diary of both devices. You can see what time your significant other woke up today, how they interact with the device throughout the day. It could help add a layer of information and become a tracking device that documents your communication through the device.


I want this device to be something more than just another piece of technology that distracts us. Unlike your smartphone or your laptop, Duo shows a sense of companionship that you want to take care of it. It can help remind you your significant others and not feel alone when you are apart from them.

This is what I believe that future of creative technology should be, not as a complex barrier between people and their lives, but as a simple conduit that guides you to what you want to achieve, and makes connections that are valuable and meaningful to people.