Alvaro Perez is in a long distance relationship. There are many difficulties associated with having a loved one far away, and modern cell phones and computing have alleviated many of them. However, as Alvaro points out, that can leave you feeling like you’re in a relationship with your screen.

There is, however, one thing that is missing from long-distance relationships: tangible and physical communication, everything is inside our screens or mobile phones. EmotionBox was conceived as a way to mitigate this.

EmotionBox is a bit of an experiment, a way to add some kind of communication that lives outside of your little glowing screens.

Using the online service Blynk, Alvaro created a small device that can take an input via his phone or physical buttons and light up an associated LED. There is a device in his home, as well as his long distance partner’s. They agree on meanings to associate with each light, and transmit those “emotions” to eachother.

It may seem silly. How is a light helping their relationship? Well, it can give a sense of presence. When you share a space with someone you instinctually gather information about them by glancing or listening. You probably aren’t even aware of it. This tiny bit of communication that doesn’t require opening your cell phone and asking a question is just another step in being connected.

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Alvaro has posted a full tutorial on how to construct your own on Instructables.