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'Synchromate: A Phatic Technology for Mediating Intimacy'


Presented at DUX 2005 conference, San Francisco, 3-5th November, 2005. Copyright Martin R. Gibbs, Frank Vetere, Marcus Bunyan and Steve Howard, 2005.

Synchromate pdf (240kb pdf)



By and large interactive design has been concerned with information exchange – technologies for the collection, processing and transmission of informational content. This design sketch discusses preliminary ideas about an alternative way to think about interactive technologies – phatic technologies – that are less concerned with capturing and communicating information and more about the establishment and maintenance of social interaction. Drawing on insights and inspiration gleaned from a recent field-based study of the role of interactive technologies within intimate relationships we outline our preliminary ideas concerning technologies to support phatic interaction. Using these materials collected during our fieldwork as design inspirations, we developed design sketches for phatic technologies intended to support playful connection between intimates. One of these sketches – SynchroMate – is presented. SynchroMate is a phatic technology design to mediate intimacy by affording serendipitous synchronous exchanges.



Affect, Concept design, Interaction design, Intimacy, Tactile, Wearable.