2020 • Interaction Design
Team — Wendy Gui, Julia Chao
My Role — Research, Ring Prototyping, Mobile UI Design + Prototyping
Duration — 2 months
AdoRing is a integrated app and smart ring system that aims to maintain a couple's physical and mental wellbeing while being apart in a Long Distance relationship. The couples works together to grow their shared pet, which is done through maintaining their shared physical and mental wellbeing.
Create a integrated system of interfaces that could help improve how people interact and foster long distance relationships.
Amidst the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, quarantine and travel restrictions affect the way in which people communicate to drastically change. These include forcing many people into long-distance relationships (LDRs), or similar situations. Our team wanted to look at how relationships are affected by LDRs, and how technology could fill in some of the gaps present in LDRs. Although we did this project with the COVID-19 pandemic in mind, we wanted out final product to be generally applicable to most LDRs.
Interviews with family, friends, partners who have LDRs. Not yet focusing on romantic LDRs, or LDRs in general.
• Around 3 million married couples are living apart from their spouses. (Bergen, Kirby, & McBride, 2007)
• 25-30% of college students are in a long distance relationship. (Stafford, 2015)
• Psychological safety was an important factor in long-distance relationships. In the current quarantine situation, "the ability to provide comfort and social connection in a time of struggle" is an important factor. 
Observations + Competitive Analysis
Observed at what kinds of social media and entertainment activities were effective and resonate in building relationships. We looked at TikTok, Snapchat, Zenly (an app to track your partner's location), and popular shared games and activities that brought people together, such as Animal Crossing, Pokemon Go.
— Sharing a virtual space together that they could both contribute to.
— Playfulness & Creativity — cute characters, customizable emojis, filters
— Quick & Easy Interactions — being able to tag and @ friends or your partner to share small things that remind them of you; to keep engaging with them in a simple way; instant sharing.
— Keeping up streaks
As a result of our research, we made some decisions:
• We want to design for couples (romantic relationships), because our interviewees who were in romantic LDRs are more invested and opinionated. People are more used to maintaining friendships and family relationships in longer distance, although it can still be hard.
• Due to the nature of the problem space being about communication, we were conscious not to design just another messaging app/platform.
• Relating to the above, we wanted to focus on maintaining wellbeing rather than communication because it struck to us and one of the more overlooked, hard to keep-track-of, and "invisible" aspects of a relationship, especially one that is so far apart in distance and time zone.
• We want our design to be a "backpocket app" — something that the users would not need to check regularly.
Thus, we came to our research question and design principles:
"How might we better facilitate a way of maintaining a couple's collective and collaborative wellbeing whilst being in an LDR?"
Many of our ideas involved encouraging activities for couples to do simultaneously, but we didn't want it to be just like any other social media app, and we still wanted it to be a backpocket app.
We also went through multiple iterations, experimenting with mixed reality and smart rings before we came to our final design solution...
Our final design idea is an integrated app and smart ring system that aims to help maintain a couple's physical and mental wellbeing through a shared virtual pet.
The shared virtual pet would grow and stay alive through simple, easy, daily challenges that involved maintaining the couple's shared physical and mental wellbeing. Thus, the shared pet becomes the manifestation of the couple's shared efforts, whilst the daily challenges encourage communication and collaboration from the user couple.
Now on to the design~ (UI, prototyping)
PROTOTYPING & REFINING PHYSICAL FORM
It took us awhile to hone in to a smart ring as one of our main interfaces on top of a phone app. We loved the idea of a ring because of what it signifies for a couple and relationships. The prototyping phase helped us decide on the specific physical form and details of the smart ring, which then informed the 3D rendering we made for the final video.
FINAL DESIGN (UI + PROTOTYPE VIDEO)
Since this product is targeted towards couples, our visual style for AdoRIng focused on a cozy, mature colours with simple yet playful illustrations. The UI of the ring is more simplistic and designed for quick understanding, whilst the UI of the smartphone app is more playful and illustration heavy.
FINAL PROTOTYPE VIDEO
• View your partner's current status
• Select current/day's challenge
• See selected challenge & challenge progress
Communicate With Your Partner
• Receive short audio messages from your partner
• Record and send short audio messages to your partner
1. Syncing process to Ring
• Sync between your phone and your ring
• Sync your account with your partner's account
2. Data Input for personalization
• Height, weight, gender
• Sleep habits
• Communication apps tracking
3. Choosing your shared animal!
Homepage & Customization
• Show current day's challenge
• Access to other functions
2. Customize animal
Animal accessories as rewards to keeping up with streak
3. View progress
• Show past streaks and each partner's completion/ contribution
• Show your pet's growth — show when the next level up and rewards are
Testing with high-fidelity prototypes is needed to better understand how interactions will play out between the ring and the user, and to learn how AdoRing will be used and impact relationships in the long-term.
Expand on Virtual Pet
Make the pet animal more interactive to enhance the experience; add items and customization.
Explore Possible Social Features
Expanding on possibilities of longer-term and physical interactions between partners or between LDR couples.