Long-distance couples face numerous challenges, with lack of physical intimacy being the main perpetrator. It is also a challenge that modern verbal and visual communication methods such as text message and video chat can’t solve. We want to use robotics to improve intimacy between partners by also utilizing tactile communication.
We plan to evaluate our robot by asking couples to use our device separately and describe their interactions with it through a series of open-ended questions. We are also interested in learning how the robot affects their daily interactions with each other. Some questions we may ask are
- Does it enhance or change their communication? How?
- How do they feel about it compared to an existing communication tool that they currently use?
- How does the robot affect their feelings about tactile communication?
- Do they experience increased emotional or physical intimacy when using tactile communication versus the methods they currently use?
Qualitative metrics from the device that may reveal insight can include:
- Frequency of usage (as a measure of engagement)
- Time (When do couples tend to use it? Do they use it simultaneously?)
- Patterns of usage (How do couples create their own language?)
We will determine the success of tactile communication through qualitative responses from our participants and potentially quantitative data from our device. Pairing these two data sources together can tell us more about effectiveness and usage. Essentially, we hope that our participants will experience increased emotional or physical intimacy with their partner.