Couples miss each other and that isn’t always about sex

by July 27, 2022 0 comments

Context, privacy, ergonomics, non-intrusiveness, battery life, and deeply customizable nuances that only two partners can enjoy- are just some challenges that a long-distance bracelet has to snap well into. Let’s try the Bond Touch and see how well it covers this distance?

Not trying to overload our users with anything but their partner’s touch is our strong point

How can I keep my soul in me, so that

it doesn’t touch your soul? ……

Yet everything that touches us, me and you,

takes us together like a violin’s bow,

which draws ‘one’ voice out of two separate strings.

Upon what instrument are we two spanned?

Poet Rainer Maria Rilke may have written these lines way before the idea of emotional wearables had even been thought of. But today we have bracelets that can do exactly that- vibrate two deeply-connected people with the beautiful tremor of touch – thanks to the instrument called technology. One such company is Bond Touch- claiming that it is closing the gap between long-distance relationships by allowing each person to stay connected at all times through touch. Light-weight to wear, sleek and subtle- these are just the first impressions you get when you put the bracelet on your wrist. And as long as you are near WiFi and have Bluetooth always-on, the promise of ‘staying in touch’ holds well. But there are many other what-ifs and how-s to be covered well in its grip before the bracelet throbs like a timeless poem. Artur Ventura, Tech Lead, and Bond Touch help us get deeper and closer to these questions.

Tell us something about how this idea and product spawned- what were the struggles, highlights, lessons, etc.

Bond Touch spawned from a real-world use case. Kwame (our CEO), together with his business partner at the time, while on business trips away, felt they missed their loved ones back home, particularly their wives. They know that they could easily just send them a message through their phones, but it doesn’t mean as much as things like a physical embrace. Their desire for this led them to develop Bond Touch for those who thought the same: a simple wearable to allow users to feel closer to their remote loved ones. Since then, Bond Touch has provided a handful of learnings. Growth was one of the biggest challenges. We’ve been a pretty small team with business growth that was always above our expectations. Keeping up with our growth operationally to maintain these expectations has always been a learning process. Besides this, our product is something relatively new and hard to compare to other products or markets, so we’ve gladly embraced the challenge of figuring out what an emotional wearable means to markets and its users.

How much focus do you place on personalisation, emotionally connected, on meaningfulness – and how do these areas get translated into the product experience?

Our product teams at Bond Touch are super focused on what is meaningful to them. It’s the most straightforward way to provide value to them through our work. Through his process, we’ve grown to understand that the uniqueness of each user’s experience is a very important factor. Personalization and focusing on a more emotional connection are important means to maintain a significant usage that is relevant and unique to each and every user. We’ve enhanced this through things like providing a variety of colors of Bond Touch and its accessories for users to buy and allowing users to choose the light colors used when sending and receiving touches through Bond Touch. More importantly, however, has been our most recent in-app feature which we call Touch Language.

Can a user create one’s own secret language beyond the basic alerts that the bracelet provides?

When talking to users we realized that they would frequently use notebooks to write down message patterns that meant specific meanings to both them and their partners. Keeping this in mind, we developed Touch Language to allow users to be able to not only manage meanings given to touch message patterns and apply custom gradient colors to them but also developed an algorithm that detects if touch messages sent and received matches Touch Language meanings saved previously and apply the customization (gradient colors and what the message means) in real-time. The feature proved to be well adopted by our users, having a quarter of all touch messages sent with a meaning applied to them.

What makes you different from other such offerings – in the wearables space as well as ideas like Durex Long-Distance Fundawear?

We consider ourselves significantly different from other wearables. So far very few are anywhere close to what we provide. Looking at wearables as a whole, many focus on multi-functionality: they’re watches, and heart rate monitors, they have screens and provide the user with much to do. The products we develop are simplified and focus on what matters: proximity to the relationship they miss dearly.

bracelet 7

When you receive a message through Bond Touch or through the upcoming Bond Touch More, you know that it’s a loved one thinking of you, and nothing else. This simplicity and relevancy make the product special to our users and that makes us stand out. Not trying to overload our users with anything but their partner’s touch is our strong point. Specifically, regarding the Durex Long-Distance Fundawear, our product does not focus on the sexuality of relationships, but on a more emotional aspect of the relationship between couples. Couples miss each other and want to feel loved as if they were there, and that isn’t always about sex. Sexuality is an important point, of course, but our product doesn’t cover that area.

How can a user ensure discretion, privacy, and assurance against public attention while using such a product- especially for celebs? Also, what is the policy on first-party and third-party data usage here?

We are a privacy-first company. Our service provides ‘end-to-end privacy. It is not possible for us to know the content and the information shared between partners. Only the elements in that relationship can decode the message. Also, we only retain the message encrypted content while in transit and it is scrubbed from our systems on the delivery

The wearables segment has been facing both opportunities and challenges in its learning curve so far- how grave are issues like form factor, ergonomics, miniaturization, PAN (Personal Area Network), and lack of a good app despite the presence of robust hardware, etc.

Form factor and ergonomics are by far the most important factors when building a wearable. You’re trying to optimize for multiple variables, and trying to find the sweet spot. Smaller and speaker devices do make great products for a person to wear but you would be paying a price in battery budget. And no one wants to charge their devices more than once a day. That is the tightest rope to walk in this segment.

How soon would we see advancements in tactile sensors (like deformability, signal analysis, data feedback, sensitivity) being manifested into actual products?

We would like to have Moore’s law for material sciences but the reality is that innovation in that sector cannot be compared with computer science. During the development of Bond Touch More, we have tested a lot of incredible technologies that work inside of a lab but when moving towards engineering a product some of them have not matured enough to be used in the field. Sometimes it is a yield problem, others are in the field failure rates. There are some interesting things in the pipeline but they are still a few years away.

Can we expect any possibilities of self-learning and evolution by AI/algorithms in such products to further integrate deeply with a particular user context?

One of the ideas we have been thinking about is using the technology these wearables have to estimate user context. One of the main anxieties of long-distance partners is the lack of context on the other person’s life. We are exploring ameliorating this feeling by predicting when the partner is at work, at home, or in some other context.

Can this product find enterprise potential too- like remote workforce management, use in fire departments, rescue teams, etc.?

The emotional connection you have with your company and your coworkers is one of the main relationships one can have. People leave jobs because of bad chemistry with the rest of the team. Remote work also aggravates this problem. Currently, there are HR solutions to measure and estimate employee satisfaction and eNPS scores. We have had internal talks if we can bring the lessons we have learned from the consumer space into the enterprise space. But we don’t have anything to announce at this moment.

Are we inching closer to the Internet of Humans in a way? Why or why not? How can we make it less dystopian?

We are already living in it in some sense, just depending on your perspective. Cyborgs conjure images of flesh intertwined with metal, but in reality, our own glasses are technological augments we build to improve our site, hearing aids allow improved hearing, sometimes even achieving superhuman performance, and something as simple as an Airpod allows the user to through voice to access the total sum of human knowledge through Siri. We are in a sense already cyborgs. The idea of an Internet of Humans already exists today. The initial versions of Bond touch can be viewed as a cybernetic augment (as in Kolmogorov and Bateson) that helps the user improve its relationship. With Bond Touch More we are expanding this towards multiple relationships.

Does any future tech jump that you have envisaged – like the use of AR, VR, Blockchain, decentralized data exchanges? Is anything else exciting that we can expect next?

There are some possible interesting uses for these technologies. Blockchain, for instance, can enable decentralized registry for things like marriages and NFTs can be used to generate tokens for important moments in a relationship, but some of these technologies are very recent and a lot of work is still needed.

Artur Ventura

Artur Ventura, Tech Lead, Bond Touch

By Pratima H

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