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Holding Hands Across Continents

I wish I could have held my grandma's hand before she passed, thousands of miles away from me. Perhaps I could have..

Photo of Ayon Bhattacharya
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Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine the end-of-life experience?

There are 40 million immigrants and 17 million children of immigrant parents in the U.S alone. Often, extended families are split. When health issues arise and the end of life is near, it is not always affordable or feasible for entire families to travel and meet with their ailing loved one. Touch is an extremely critical tool for human connection and comfort, with studies reporting a 78% accuracy in gauging emotions via touch alone. Let's enable the power of touch over long distances!

Various companies have produced technologies to transmit hugs and kisses for long distance couples. The same types of technologies could be leveraged to hold the hand of a loved one from miles away. Pressure and temperature sensors, motors, and heating elements could operate in tandem to give families a chance to reconnect one last time. Perhaps humidity sensors and humidifiers could be used to more accurately replicate the specific feeling of the skin. 

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

A lightweight way to try this out would be to wirelessly record and replicate pressure across two glove-like modules. In fact, we could literally use gloves, along with cheap parts that you could obtain at a hobby-shop or hardware store.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

Product design skills, engineering skills, coding skills, input from doctors, input from immigrant families.

Tell us about your work experience:

Designer.

This idea emerged from

  • An Individual

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Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

I think this is very interesting because I had a very similar experience to yourself. I was working abroad when my grandmother died. 

Have you thought of adding other senses e.g. smell, taste etc? 

Photo of Ayon Bhattacharya
Team

Sorry to hear that! Maybe we can alleviate this kind of disconnection for others. Interesting idea.. are you thinking perhaps that you could transmit the taste/smell of a food you used to share with your grandmother? Or what was your thought?

Smell  is  powerfully linked to emotion and memory, so I think it's an interesting idea.

Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

I hadn't really thought in depth. I was just wondering what was possible. I was thinking of the scratch and sniff postcards you can buy that smell of something when you scratch them. :-) I bought one that smelt of lavendar. 

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