Romance and technology in a box!
Written by Lucy Black   
Friday, 29 April 2011

How can we keep romance alive in this digital age where many interpersonal communications have been reduced to tweets and texting language?

A team of artists, engineers and social psychologists from Newcastle University in the UKhave created digital ‘Lovers’ Boxes’ that retain the aesthetics of traditional wooden jewellery boxes, while containing technology to enable couples to record romantic messages for each other.

Each box consists of two halves connected by brass hinges, decorated with ornate carvings, with an antique keyhole at the front. They look like something from another time but inside a computer with an integrated RFID reader is hidden.

Once unlocked, the box opens like a book, and a screen becomes visible but is framed with rounded edges to  counter the usual associations of a digital display with hard edged technology. Once open placing the RFID tag in the key fob triggers a video message.

 

box2

 

As detailed in an academic paper in current edition of International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, the impact of the Lovers' Box has been tested on five couples who were to create personalised video content for one another by working with a digital media artist.

The research findings showed that the creation, exchange and display of personal messages embedded in the box served as both mirrors and sources for reflection within their relationships.

Commenting on the results, Anja Thieme, the lead researcher on the project, said:

"The aesthetic appeal of these objects, with the mix of the antique wooden box that has to be unlocked with a physical key is really important in terms of keeping the personal messages between partners private and treasured".

 

loversbox

 

So what do you think? Is this knocking the sharp edges off technology and making is soft and even more GUI?  Or is it just repeating the past?

Reference:

Thieme. A., et. al., 2011, "Lovers' box: Designing for reflection within romantic relationships", International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, vol. 69, no. 5, pp. 283-297.

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