We set out to create an enchanted object with the purpose of connecting with our loved ones in a more meaningful way.
This project initiated internally with the question, "how can love be expressed through the interaction with an object?" To make something meaningful, it is helpful to understand a culture that embodies the values that need to be designed for. For this investigation, the cultural tradition of Catholicism was chosen as a starting place.
After some initial exploration and consideration the idea of lighting a candle using a prolonged, gentle hold emerged. Building from the tradition and meaning of lighting a candle, this symbolism could be enriched by adding internet connectivity, allowing the candle to be lit from anywhere in the world.
A functional bread-board prototype was quickly constructed that embodied the interaction concept. Using this prototype, we were able to experience the idea and begin to get feedback from others. We were able to easily modify the candle's behavior test different interaction possibilities.
Now that we had the interaction design worked out, we turned focus toward the aesthetic form and materials. Working between 2D sketches and 3D hand-carved models, a compelling form began to take shape. Using rapid prototyping techniques, the electronics were integrated into the new form.
The next phase of this project was to create a set of functional prototypes that would wireless connect to each other to fully embody the concept. These prototypes were to used to help acquire investor support needed commercialize this concept. We used these prototypes as an opportunity to start thinking through the functional product requirements and assembly for a production product.
To achieve create a pair of functioning prototypes for demonstration, more electronics and firmware development was needed. Although WiFi was determined as the target technology for the production product, to keep the development time and cost to a minimum, we choose to build these prototypes using Bluetooth communications with off-the-shelf modules. We designed a custom PCB to improve prototype reliability and integrate the required electronics into the more compact form-factor.
The prototypes were used in various pitch meetings and to create a demo video to communicate the product concept.