Lover's Cups

Jackie Lee and Hyemin Chung
Last updated on April 12, 2007

< Lover's Cups on The Most Extreme, Animal Planet, 2007> (watch this video on YouTube)

< Lover's Cups on National Geographic Channel MadLabs (in Taiwan), Jan. 23, 2007> (watch this video on YouTube)

Lover's Cups on Discovery Channel, June 27, 2006!

Lover's Cups Lover's Cups in Liuli


< Lover's Cups on The Most Extreme, Animal Planet, 2007> (watch this video on YouTube)

< Lover's Cups on National Geographic Channel MadLabs (in Taiwan), Jan. 23, 2007> (watch this video on YouTube)

Lover's Cups were demonstrated in Next 2006- Nordic Exceptional Trendshop in Copenhagen, Denmark during Dec. 1~3, 2006

< Lover's Cups on Denish TV program in Next 2006, Dec. 1, 2006> (in Danish)

< Jackie's Interview on Business Weekly in Taiwan, Oct. 30, 2006> (in Chinese)

< Jackie's Interview on Epoch times, Oct. 23, 2006> (in Chinese)

< Lover's Cups in NextFest, NYC, Sept. 28~30, 2006>

< Lover's Cups in La Versa Winery, Italy, Sep. 2006>

< Lover's Cups in SIGGRAPH 2006 poster presentation>

< Lover's Cups on SAMPAN, Aug 4, 2006 > (English, Chinese, PDF News)

< Lover's Cups in Taste 3 Conference, Napa, July 2006> (The best Conference ever!!)

< Lover's Cups on World Journal, July 13, 2006> (in Chinese)

< Lover's Cups on Discovery Channel, June 27, 2006>

< Lover's Cups on Health Magazine, July/Aug 2006>

< Lover's Cups on English 4 U , June 2006>

< Lover's Cups on l'Ordinateur Individuel Magazine, May 2006> (in French)

< Lover's Cups filmed by National Geographic MadLab, April 17, 2006 >

< Lover's Cups on Boston Herald, April 10, 2006 >

< Lover's Cups filmed by Discovery Channel Canada, April 7, 2006 >

< Lover's Cups on IEEE in Wireless, Vol 7 No.3, March 2006 >

< Jackie and Hyemin on BBC live radio interview (recorded by Jennifer and Wanju), March 15, 2006> (download mp3 here)

< Jackie and Hyemin on J-Wave Tokyo live radio interview, March 13, 2006>

< Lover's Cups on World Journal, March 10, 2006 (in Chinese)>

< Lover's Cups on Bostonist, March 10, 2006>

< Lover's Cups on Yahoo News1 , News2, and UDN News March 9, 2006 (in Chinese)>

< Lover's Cups on Yahoo News Japan March 9, 2006 (in Japanese)>

< Lover's Cups on Naver, MSN news, Chosun daily news, and Yahoo news. (in Korean)>

< Lover's Cups on GIZMODO, information aesthetics, BoingBoing, Egadget, ZDNet, and Bostonist, March 9, 2006 >

< Lover's Cups on New Scientist, March 8, 2006> (Mech-Tech top story)

< Lover's Cups on Reuters , CNN, and Smart Mobs on March 8, 2006>

< Dining Together and Lover's Cups on Dragonfire, Feb 6th, 2006 >

Lover's Cups: Drinking Interfaces as New Communication Channels (in alt.Chi of CHI 2006)

Lover's Cups in CHI 2006 presentation slides

Lover's Cups one page abstract

Lover's Cups in SIGGRAPH 2006 Poster

Lover's Cups short introduction (23Mb) (contact me for higher resolution movie)

Lover's Cups Presentation (by Hyemin and Jackie ) in CHI 2006 (86Mb)

Lover's Cups explore the idea of sharing feelings of drinking between two people in different places by using cups as communication interfaces of drinking. Two cups are wireless connected to each other with sip sensors and LED illumination. The Lover's cups will glow when your lover is drinking. When both of you are drinking at the same time, both of the Lover's Cups glow and celebrate this virtual kiss.

Why drinking?

Drinking is a common but important daily behavior. Having a drink together has been a culture since hundreds of years ago. People tend to take a break for having a cup of water or tea while they are thirty or feeling tired. It's also the moment of rejuvenation that you might think of someone instead of something.

Taking a break with someone you care no matter where he or she is is the main idea. Hyemin and I were both away from home. Most of our good friends and families were on the other side of the earth. "We just miss our families and friends." Why not we can get connected with them and get a sense of how they feel in a natural and unobtrusive way?

The idea

Have you ever been thinking of someone while you're having a cup of coffee? "Let's have a drink together with our best friends or our families who are thousands miles away." Sharing a drink together represents an intimate relationship between you and your love one. The idea is to share the moment of drinking to someone you care. Therefore, you can feel each other while both of you are drinking. To achieve our goal, we designed a pair of wireless-connected cups that can sense how your love one uses the cup. We call them- Lover's Cups, a pair of cups that will glow when your love one is taking a sip. Lover's Cups can let you share a drink remotely with someone you care. When both of you are drinking, the glowing Lover's Cups represents a celebration of the shared drinking moment.

How does it work?

How do we get in touch with someone i care about? Usually, people use telephone to hear each other's voice, email to write to each other, or video conference to stare at each other. Have you ever used the phone but just wanted to get connected with your close friends? Do you remember some moments that both of you are slient but you can still kind of feel your friend?

Do you want to have a toast with someone far away? The idea is to make you get connected with your friends and families in an implict way. It's not like using the phone or video conference, but more like getting a sense of feeling someone.

Why a cup?

People have thousands of years of the culture of using cups.
Cups are very important and intimate daily objects. Everyone needs to use cups for drinking something.
In Europe, while toasting, you need to look into your friends eye.

A Lover's Cup Drinking Game

Do you have a friend or someone you care very much who is far away from you? Do you want to have drink together? You can do as following step to accomplish it.

1. Let your friend know when to have a drink. Due to the time difference, you might be in the afternoon tea time and your friend might be during the dinner. But it doesn't matter, as long as both of you have cups at hand.

2. Rise your glass for your friend and have a toast on time.


Following scenarios show how Lover's Cups can promote emotional interaction, health care, family care, and social activities.

For Lovers

The Lover's Cups connect a couple through drinking behaviors while they are working. A pair of Lover's Cups is owned by a couple working in different offices. Each of them had brought his/her Lover's Cup to work. Due to the magical connectivity of this pair of cups, the wife sees her cup is glowing which represents her husband's cup is in used for drinking. She picks up the Lover's Cup and takes a sip. At the same time, the other Lover's Cup held in her husband's hand starts glowing for the celebration of drinking together.

For Nurse, Family , and Patient

The Lover's Cups can be also extended to health care applications. Patients always need extra care from their families. The Lover's Cups are able to connect the patients to someone who cares about their water drinking behavior. While a patient is drinking water, the paired Lover's Cup reflects to someone related to him/her. If the patient did not drink enough water, through the physical illumination of cups, patients might be motivated to drink water or being taken care.

With Other Communication Channels

The Lover's Cups can enhance the traditional communications. Julie and her best friend Ann live in different states. When Julie got tired or stressed, she had a conversation with Ann through the internet messenger program. However, the text-only communication limited their sympathy and emotional interactions. Today, Julie and Ann use their Lover's Cups. Julie suggests to Ann to have a coffee break by shaking her cup. While talking through the messenger, they have a feeling of that they are drinking coffee together, and it makes them feel more relaxed and connected.

For Mom and Child

Mom's love water bottle is another Lover's Cup extension for parents and children. Parents are willing to give young children extra care in every possible way. A family-connected water bottle may create emotional linkage between parents and children. During the lunch time of the child's school, his parents could shake their Lover's Cup to make the child's water bottle vibrate or take a sip to make it glow in order to express their care and motivate their child to drink water.

For a Social Event

Lover's Cups can be distributed in a social party where everyone uses Lover's Cups to drink. When one's Lover's Cup meets with another cup by toasting, two of them will become a pair of Lover's Cups until one of them toasts with other cups. For example, in the Lover's Cup social event, Jackie is holding a Lover's Cup and meeting with Anny who holds another Lover's Cup. They toast for good luck and their cups remember each other by the action of toasting. Whenever Anny takes a sip, Jackie's cup glows to motivate him to take a sip at the same time. When Jackie shakes his cup, Anny can feel that her cup is vibrating. Using the cups, they have a new way of interacting with each other while drinking. After a while, four of Anny's friends arrive. Anny and her friends hold their cups together. At this moment, their cups become a group of Lover's Cups. Whenever one is in use for drinking, the other cups will also glow and celebrate this moment of drinking.


Chung, H. Lee, C.H., Selker, T. Lover's Cups: Drinking Interfaces as New Communication Channels. Paper in alt.chi of CHI 2006. (Full-text PDF)

We thank ITRI/NEXT for supporting this research. We also thank Helen Hsieh and Edward Shen for their inputs and help of documentation. Chaochi Chang and ITRI Hubert Chang for their valuable inputs. Minna Ha, Subodh Paudel and Iris Cheung for their MIT UROP contribution.

Thanks for Liuli for providing a pair of Liuli glass.
Thanks for Taiwan Glass ind Corp. for providing lots glass samples.

Related Links
Tmote RF module (our friends)
IFTF's Future Now. (comments on Lover's cups)
The Seven Levels of Intimacy (nice reference)

Human Intimacy and Digital Communication Media 11Mb (M.Art Thesis by Muffin Tsai )

Please send your comments to Jackie Lee