Funji: A Customizable Affective Interface and Product-Service System

Shinyoung Park

Funji is a customizable creature that opens an emotional channel between people.


Classes Studio (Social Software),Thesis

The slow media is disappearing as everything becomes faster and things are disappearing in virtual world without a trace.
What about the memories?
What about relationships in virtual world?
“I want to collect the sweet memory and the relationship that gives me comfort and makes me happy.”
Shinyoung imagined the old box in the garage full of letters, postcards, and photos of memory.

Shinyoung is developing a customizable product-service system called Funji through which people can share emotions with each other.

Funji devices and the facebook application not only deliver a voice message from individuals, but also provide a representation of their identity or the relationship through customized colors and designs.

Funji device also randomly vibrates, yawns, snores or plays unique sounds to give a user a sense of companionship. It is also small enough to fit into the palm of a hand so that people can easily hold and touch it and carry it around wherever they go.
Funji hopes to be a new medium that can capture a certain memory of a certain relationship in the digital world so that you can keep them forever. You can also use it as a secret note that you pass in classes or secret code that you use with your special friends.

The growing tendency to put oneself first leads to unparalleled freedom, but it can also create an enormous amount of pressure and isolation.
Even though study after study show that people who have good relationships with friends and family are the happiest, many times people are geographically or emotionally distant to their loved ones because they are pursing professional goals.
In urban environments, communication devices such as cell phones, PDAs and Blackberries are ubiquitous and people are almost constantly digitally connected. However, most devices are designed to share information rather than create emotional connections aimed at comforting and supporting each other. I imagine the old box in the garage full of letters, postcards, and photos of memory. Those slow media is disappearing as everything becomes faster and remain digital. What about the memories disappearing in the digital world? I wanted to create a medium that can capture a certain memory of a certain relationship in the digital world.

Teens, young adults

User Scenario
The user first go to Funji Facebook application to design Funji and record their message.
The recipient click on virtual Funji to listen to the message.
(For instruction: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taDueld_tvw)

The physical Funji identical to the virtual Funji (same message, same design) can be sent to the recipient if they want to keep it as a physical form.

1. Facebook application
The application is implemented by Flash and txt to wav functionality for recording a message and customize Funji.

2. Funji device
Microcontroller: Atmel 168 chip
Sensor: Qprox
Custom made circuit board using AVRSTUDIO to upload SW

Funji aims to innovate both affective interaction and hardware personalization creating a new way of communication. The prototype test results show that testers enjoy virtual Funji and the Funji device as a new communication tool. Funji is an on-going project and I will include the testing results into the revision of the device and application. In-depth research on the affective interface needs to follow to make Funji more intimate and personal. More importantly, research and user tests on teenagers will follow to examine different target group. In addition, in thinking of personalization, hardware customization methods will be researched in various ways. That will include which component is the most important part for customization, how many customization components are enough, etc.
I hope to provide intimate and personal communication tool for people away from friends and loved ones as well as a fun way of interaction for people communicating via online communication tools. Sometimes it’s hard to engage people emotionally since emotion is very intimate and personal. However, sometimes one personal moment can resonate with public. In the end, I will try to make Funji to be your messenger, only for you.