How do we design a phone that strengthens relationships?


Enhancing the Smartphone Experience

LG Electronics approached Carnegie Mellon’s School of Design in search of gaining insight to smart devices of the future. Jesse Hsia, James Zulkie, and myself, were given the goal to identify a design opportunity from research and create a concept that offered new perspectives on smartphones, interactions, and technology.  It is no surprise that phones connect people across distances. However, as phones become smarter, the number of ways people communicate increases and as a result there is a lower perceived value of face-to-face interaction. The mode, frequency, and people users communicate with was dependent on location.


Detangling Modes of Communication

As we compiled data, multiple themes were reoccurring.  Relationships, whether strong or deteriorating, were left aside to be controlled by predetermined modes in the phone.  The content being sent was also heavily anchored to modes of communications. This informed the team that communication can be seen as a hierarchy with face-to-face meetings as an ultimate end goal to strengthening relationships. We found that the ability to recall these face-to-face meetings through media helped to facilitate conversation and strengthen relationships.


Personality Through visual identity

When approaching the visual language and form of the phone, we initially looked to infographics and forms that contained distinct meanings.  Mixing high end technology with the nostalgia of devices that have not changed over the years allowed our approach to be filled with ideation and creation of humbling visuals and branding.


Relationship-enhancing interactions

Areas of communication differ from person to person.  Chrono allows the user to view each relationship with the ability to respond with an appropriate mode of communication, while also being presented with information that will help prompt users to more actively maintain their relationships.  When face-to-face interaction occurs, Chrono becomes a device that captures a moment through relevant apps and shares media across the group’s events and timelines.


The timeline invites the user to reflect on their relationships.  The power of reflection is critical to our timeline, as it incites emotional and behavioral responses. The timeline enriches the life of the user and their relationships by allowing them to create, share, and reflect, all in a single device. Relationships are not defined by a single mode of communication, and the experience of Chrono presents a device that creates a catalysts for conversation while strengthening new and old connections.