Jetty is a research project exploring an evocative device to bring dispersed family members together. Combining 3D print and IoT technologies, Jetty offers the potential to create an emotional connection between people over distance. Jetty displays a 3D printed house of an absent family member and projects real-time weather imagery around it. When the person is home, the house glows to indicate their presence. With an elegantly simple design, Jetty aims to foster a feeling of connectedness between people, encouraging them to get in touch more often.

Tektonika | How Project Jetty and its technology are uniting human hearts
Innovation Journal | Co-authored the article with Alex Thayer |  The HP Immersive Experiences Lab Jetty story

Research Objective
Building a healthy relationship is one of the essential conditions for happiness, and strong bonds with family members play a particularly significant role in our emotional stability. However, maintaining the quality and frequency of connection is challenging when family members live apart from one another. A variety of technologies exist that families could use to address this issue, such as phone call, instant messenger, and video chat. Those technologies provide people with means to communicate with each other, but do not necessarily support an emotional connection over distance.

How Jetty evokes an emotional connection between dispersed family members
The Project Jetty takes a different approach to the challenge by helping people feel connected without actually being connected. The device does not offer a way to interact or communicate through its interface; instead, it aims to create a lightweight and seamless link between two parties based on the real time weather and presence information. The tangible representation of residence and immersive display of information give awareness to a viewer of the other person. People can communicate around their Jetty devices using their preferred means of getting in touch. The weather and presence information compels a user to consider how the other person is doing and also could function as a conversation starter in case of contact.

The early prototype I made with foam boards, plexiglass, and tablet referring to Pepper’s Ghost technique

We designed Jetty device focusing on providing people with an authentic experience through the personalization of technology. One of the design challenges we had was creating a different house model for each device and family member. We used 3D printing technology to make a unique, photorealistic model of every single user’s residence.

Closeup of a 3D printed house with presence indicator in snowy weather

The holographic display of weather is realized by an optical illusion technique, Pepper’s Ghost, in combination with a tablet and customized software that imports real-time weather data for a particular location.

The customized software displays 12 different types of weather conditions according to real-time data from Yahoo Weather API. It also supports day and night modes

Blending 2D and 3D technologies in a creative way, we designed Jetty to provide a personalized experience for each user. We also integrated IoT devices to make the presence indicator function accurately during the field study. Each Jetty device was connected to a smart home hub at each participant’s house; presence information of paired family members was drawn from their arrival sensors that they carried on their keychains.

User Study
In the field study with 10 families in the Bay Area, all participants reported that Jetty led them to feel closer to each other after living with it for a full week. The participants consisted of older parents and their adult children (5 pairs in total), all of whom were living apart from one another. One of the young adult participants said that “I felt very connected and safe when I saw her light on,” and one aging user noted that Jetty kept her “mind organized” by helping her coordinate picking up her grandchildren for babysitting. Also, the participants commonly stated that Jetty prompted them to have more conversations via phone call and text with each other than before. Throughout the study, we confirmed that Jetty successfully achieved our design intent: to enhance an emotional connection between family members in addition to providing useful supports for their mental well-being.

HP Labs (2016)   

Alex Thayer, Hiroshi Horii, Jishang Wei, Jiwon Jun, Kevin Smathers

My Contribution
Idea, design and fabrication of early prototype, hardware prototyping, motion graphic design (weather), video production

Tektonika | How Project Jetty and its technology are uniting human hearts

Innovation Journal | Co-authored the article with Alex Thayer |  The HP Immersive Experiences Lab Jetty story