by Joel Loo
In our highly digitalised world, we are starting to replace our in-person communications with digital alternatives. We design apps that assist us in our social interactions from networking apps such as Facebook to simple conversations through texting on WhatsApp. Sending likes on Instagram and Facebook and using emoji even allow us to express our emotions on these platforms. Facebook has already advanced into automated messaging for birthday wishes and congratulatory replies with Facebook M assistant.
As a speculative design example, I have use the context of a plausible future funeral. This is because the death service industry is slowly losing its value as lesser people are bothered with attending funerals. My speculative project aims to invite discussion about our increasingly digital future and raise questions about how far should the replacement of actual human touch be augmented or replaced with virtual connections. Does physical presence really matters?
The product I have designed is LUMI. It is provided at funeral services as a means for friends to indicate their attendance and convey their regards. Users can easily opt to attend from the event announcement through their phone application. And when they do so, one unit of LUMI lights up at the funeral and it will display the profile photo of the virtual attendee. This signifies the presence of the attendee.