Around

Concept

“Around” is a mobile service to provide a new way of intimate communication for young generations living abroad, to connect them with their parents. By uploading images, people can create an online shared album and browse it with families when they are on a video call. Each image is auto-linked to a 360º google street view with the same location, providing context to support conversation and help share past experiences.

Research

Living abroad, we have tried various products to stay in touch with parents, chat-box, video call, emails, etc, we feel much closer thanks to more and more advanced technology. But there are some problems with current solutions:

1. Due to different time-zone, we do video calls with parents once or twice at home, where many experiences are not easy to remember and share, and we end up saying the same topic around weather, food, health…

2. Screen-sharing is a good way to share experiences, but the internet speed is slow, image quality is not good, and it often takes too much effort to upload, particularly when the images you want to share are not on the device.

3. We also try alternative ways like email and chatting apps to send images/video, but we miss rich stories behind each photo, and the sharing feels very flat due to the gap between sender and receiver.

Design Challenge

How to design a synchronous and intimate way to share and explore life experience together for younger generations and their parents?

Prototyping

After the first-round prototyping, I realised even a few seconds of latency affects the experience a lot, so saving bandwidth and transferring data in advance would be a good choice. Secondly, bringing in a extra new hardware is not a wise decision considering the cost and value. Lastly, virtual reality provides very immersive experience to feel presence, but a bulky head device doesn’t feel human for video call. So I chose existing platform (smartphone/tablet) and design a mobile service.

The original concept is an online folder shared with mom, you could upload images anytime, invite them for video call and share past experiences. But beyond that, how about exploring life experience together, what if you can actively join the moment shared with you? By testing another prototype – “retrieve the moment”, I found that giving context to the photo you share could help better understand stories and bring you back to that moment. When you upload photos, each one is auto-linked to a google street view with the same location tag. On the video call, you could switch between your photo and the 360º sphere image, in which you pan around, see which direction he/she is pointing to, or tap to indicate content.

STUDENTS