Define and Ideate

Sketches and Storyboard Process for the concept of Communication for Long-distance family relationships

Problem statement

For families who live far apart from each other, it’s a constant challenge to maintain an intimate connection. They must actively make the effort to stay in contact. For our closest relationships, a connection goes beyond active communication. If there was a better way to share moments from a distance, then families could feel like they are together.

Exploring other possibilities of connection with our relatives it leads me to the questions:
Is there is a better way to establish intimate communication with your relatives? How to be present to each other without engaging in active communication?


Developing from the concept of being present and constant, I’ve been sketching around a physical object that helps establish a way to share daily moments with our loved ones. Physical interaction would be helpful to ease the use for a wide range of age groups.

The first interactions were around multiple tokens that the user would locate on a panel to share the activities of the day.

However, from these sketches, I kept the simple approach, where the user only shares the current activity or emotion.

The second round of sketches was sharing only one event at a time and seeing the current event chosen by the other user.
This time the token took the shape of a rock, cubes, rectangles, and blocks.

I chose the block concept because, to me, it provides a smoother interaction that is complemented by the shape of the object.


  • Each user has two sets of blocks: One is the main block where the screen and computer are located and the other is the activity block that has the symbol of the activity.
  • To make the connection the user has to join the main block and activity block.
  • When one user joins the activity block to the main block, the other user receives an update in the change of activity on their main block. Each one of the users sees the other person’s activity block.
  • The activity block is interchangeable with other activity blocks.

Things that I need to keep exploring:

  • What is the meaning of the activities blocks? What it is going to represent, Activities, events, emotions? It is customizable?
  • It is going to change for different time zones?
  • Is the main block is going to have sound feedback for the change of block?
  • Can I turn off the main block?
  • Can I add multiple users to one channel of communication? How that is going to work?


This first draft is a storyboard that presents the scenario of a daughter making a connection with her mother sharing their current activity.

The story takes place in their homes. They make a connection with the blocks. In each frame, I want to communicate the casualness of using the device and sharing the moment.






This next storyboard is based on the draft.

This product and comparables

Today there are numerous ways to establish communication with our families that are far away. We can make calls, video conferences (Skype, Whatsapp), social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram), text messages, emails, sending packages by mail and old-fashioned letters.

There are also other platforms that provide a level of casualness (where the user doesn't have to interrupt their activities). I think that Portal from Facebook, it successful at that capacity, at least in marketing. There are also other similar platforms like Google’s Nest Hub Max and Amazon’s Echo Show.

In any of these require a range of time sensitivity and a level of necessary attention. The most present and time-based communication tools (such as phone and video calls) require full engagement, but the methods more passive in the spectrum are challenged by time.

Not sure if I did my research well, but I didn’t see an IoT object like I am thinking of. In this object, the communication is more like sharing an experience with the people that we want to be present with.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Themis García

Themis García

Product Designer, Accessibility Researcher, Coder, Artist | PR-born & raised | She, Her, Ella|