Technology has helped us keep in touch. Letters, telegrams, telephones, email, video chatting, social-networking — all ways in which we have communicated throughout the years. Each innovation has allowed us to lead independent lives from our loved ones and friends, while trying not to lose touch with each other. It’s freed us, but at the same time we’ve become chained it to. We’ve lost our ability to converse and empathize with each other directly — we’ve become more comfortable in front of a screen.

Unfortunately for us, digital devices in their current state are terrible forms of communication. It lacks the vital components that are needed to develop empathy for others, which helps us to fully understand other individuals and allow us to become more compassionate towards them. Screens have lead to a world of anonymity and sterile conversations — which in turn has lead to misunderstanding and potential stresses on relationships.

This research used lean user-experience design strategies in order to develop a social experience that allows users to visualize and communicate their emotions to one another — allowing them to become more empathetic towards each and act according to other’s emotional states; not just solely by verbal information in which they receive from the sender. Research consisted of surveying the core target audience which was based upon online surveys, paper surveys, in-person interviews, and usability testing. Core design components consisted of user-interface design, product design, information design, and interaction design principles.

The overall goal of this conceptual research and experience design was to explore how design could create new uses of current technological devices for social good and improved digital communication — allowing us not to further distance ourselves from each other, but to allow technology to bring us closer together and to help us understand each other more intimately.

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Visual Communication Design (MFA)

Department, Program, or Center

School of Design (CIAS)


Nancy Ciolek

Advisor/Committee Member

Chris Jackson

Advisor/Committee Member

Joyce Hertzson


RIT – Main Campus