Finalist 2020

[ i miss your touch ] – Staying connected during COVID and beyond

PluginHUMAN / Dr Betty Sargeant / Justin Dwyer / Thanks to the Exertion Games Lab at Monash University, Australia

A unique way to maintain meaningful social and physical connections during COVID and beyond

[ i miss your touch ] is a web-platform that allows friends, who are in separate locations, to dance and interact in a shared virtual environment. Launched in mid-March 2020, it provides a unique way to maintain meaningful social and physical connections during COVID and beyond.

[ i miss your touch ] is a live collaboration between the participants and PluginHUMAN. The platform responds to people’s movements. PluginHUMAN affect, in real-time, live video streams from participants’ webcams. People instantly see the effects of their movements and interactions and feel as if they are together in a shared virtual environment.

Design Excellence

[ i miss your touch ] is an award-winning web-platform that allows friends, who are separately located, to connect via interactive video. Participants’ live movements are transformed into kaleidoscopic animated colour. [ i miss your touch ] makes friends feel as if they are together in a shared space. It was co-designed with diverse communities: seniors, children, teenagers; cross-cultural and LGBTIQ+ communities; those with Autism Spectrum Disorder and those in regional areas. The platform is free and easily accessible via your laptop, webcam and internet. No login or passwords are required. Each person is given a secure, unique URL.

Design Impact

[ i miss your touch ] reduces anxiety and social isolation, it encourages physical activity and generates joy. It was publicly accessible every week from March 2020. The design was also adapted for use by children during multiple school-holiday home lockdowns (with Local Government partnerships). It’s now being offered at festivals/events with interest from around the world. This design provides social and physical connections for isolated people during COVID and beyond.

We offer this experience globally, yet don’t need to travel nor transport items or equipment in order to deliver it. This online, environmentally responsible solution has expanded our business.

Design Transformation

[ i miss your touch ] is an easily accessible, unique, interactive online solution that provides significant social and physical connections for broad audiences. It’s in demand globally, recognised as a new benchmark for meaningful engagement during COVID and beyond. This interactive video-streaming platform surpasses the social and physical experiences provided by international multi-billion-dollar video-streaming companies (as recognised in a new international peer-reviewed publication). Our platform is made to be simple, yet it’s technologically advanced. Created by two Victorian artists at zero outgoing cost (we’re cost effective), this project elevates local design and local practitioners to national and global stages.

Design Innovation

COVID-19 has restricted our ability to physically connect with others. We can’t shake hands, nor give friends a hug. This has led to mass increases in mental health issues, particularly in children/youth, people living alone, and in LGBTIQ+ communities.

[ i miss your touch ] is an online solution that:

  • Helps a diverse range of people feel socially and physically connected.
  • Provides the ground-breaking experience of ‘virtual touch’, something that’s normally achieved using highly specialist equipment.
  • Encourages physical activity and supports body positivity.
  • Is easily accessible, secure and free.
  • Was implemented quickly as a rapid pandemic-response, at no/low cost.

Other Key Features

COVID-19 has had devastating social effects. We provide a solution.
Friends/family/loved ones can book regular weekly times to interact and dance online together. People can also book to connect with and dance with a PluginHUMAN artist.

Participants’ physical movements produce a kaleidoscope of animated patterns/shapes/colours. Body shapes and faces aren’t identifiable, helping people to focus on expressive interaction, rather than critique their visual form. This provides a ‘body positive’ environment.

This platform celebrates individuality and self-expression. It’s a safe space for girls, LGBTIQ+ communities, youth, and isolated people.

It’s easily accessible to those with restricted abilities and for non-English speakers.

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