Heart 2 Heart
Who: SapientNitro
What: industrial design / conceptualization
When: March 2015

Within the SNAP lab (SapientNitro Accelerated Prototyping), I worked with my colleagues Mo Morales, and Lance Laughlin to create a conceptual product in the realm of biometrics.

We ended up creating a conceptual piece of wearable technology that would allow two people to passively sense each other’s well being. This empathic sensation was achieved by transmitting a person’s heartbeat through subtle vibrations within the wearable device.

My involvement in the project included initial concept ideation, journey mapping, and designing the device.

Heart 2 Heart: 01 - SNAP
Heart 2 Heart: 01 - SNAP

The scope and intent of this project were entirely defined by the format of SNAP, a relatively new institution within SapientNitro. Every month, 3 people from different positions in SapientNitro Boston come together to produce a concept within a randomly chosen field of technology.

The intent of SNAP is to quickly create a wide array of provocative ideas and objects that inspire clients as well as Sapient employees, and spark bigger conversations about Sapient’s design and technological capabilities.

Every SNAP project follows an established “222” workflow:

2 hours of ideating a direction

2 days of designing the concept

2 weeks of building the prototype

Heart 2 Heart: 02 - Finding Direction
Heart 2 Heart: 02 - Finding Direction

We selected biometrics as the technological subject we would explore. The first step in the process was a two hour ideation session with a dozen Sapient employees from different backgrounds. The ideas generated from this session gave the core team ample material to create several possible design directions. We created this mind map as a way of organizing our ideas and finding parallels between them.

The three of us each took an idea from this excercise and heralded it infront of a panel of managers as a means of quickly choosing the most promising direction. The idea that was “greenlighted” was Heart 2 Heart.

Heart 2 Heart would be a pair of devices that would allow two people to share their heartbeats with each other via subtle vibrations. Through the constant exchange of this intimate biosignature, the wearers would develop an intuitive sense of each other’s well being by detecting fluctuations in heart rate.

Heart 2 Heart: 03 - Passive Empathy
Heart 2 Heart: 03 - Passive Empathy

Before any code was written or any parts were fabricated, we needed to understand the story and context this device would live in. I sketched out several user journeys that featured relationships where a constant, yet passive connection between two people would be valuable.

Heart 2 Heart: 04 - Feeling the Beat
Heart 2 Heart: 04 - Feeling the Beat

With the two weeks of producing the prototype well underway, my teammates explored technology that would allow our user journeys to come to life as I began designing the form of the device.

I defined my creative direction with a series of descriptive parameters. The intent of the experience behind this device was to create a subtle, comforting, and intuitive connection between two people who care very much for each other; the physical design of the device would have to capture these qualities as well.

I wanted the device to be worn close to a sensitive part on the body that wouldn’t be too obtrusive in day to day activities, so I began looking at soft wraps that fit around the inner forearm and wrist.

Heart 2 Heart: 05 - Warm and Fuzzy
Heart 2 Heart: 05 - Warm and Fuzzy

One challenge of this fast-paced was maintaining productivity within the separate tracks of design and technological development. Lance and Mo encountered many problems with the array of components we wanted to use to create a wireless connection between the two devices; subsequently, the dimensions of the device were constantly in flux.

In order to work in tandem with my colleagues, I created many rapid prototypes out of felt and cardboard that reflected all the possible component configurations they were testing. I also replicated the components in Rhino, which allowed me to quickly rearrange them and easily create a final housing model once the prototype proved successful.

We chose to fabricate the outer housing and details of the device with handmade felt – a warm and attractive material that reflected the emotional and sentimental qualities of the experience.

Heart 2 Heart: 06 - Final Form
Heart 2 Heart: 06 - Final Form

Our original intent was to create a pair of identical devices that could receive and transmit two people’s heartbeat. However, time and technology constraints limited us to creating a band that transmitted a pulse and a separate receiver that translated that pulse into soft vibrations.

Sapient's production team created a video at the end of the project.