Media Lab Europe
Human Connectedness research group

Mutsugoto / Pillow Talk

a body-drawing communicator for distant partners

Tomoko Hayashi, Stefan Agamanolis, Ciaran McGrath

NOTE: The Mutsugoto project has been continued and expanded at Distance Lab, where a new version was produced starting in 2007 and further exhibitions undertaken. Please see the Mutsugoto page at Distance Lab for the most up-to-date information about this project.

Mutsugoto is an intimate communication device placed in the bedroom environment. Instead of exchanging e-mail or SMS messages using generic interfaces in business-like venues, Mutsugoto allows distant partners to communicate through the language of touch as expressed on the canvas of the human body. A specialized computer vision and projection system allows users to write or draw on their own bodies while laying in bed. Drawings made by one partner are transmitted to and revealed on the body of the remote partner.

Human intimacy is a significant but often neglected part of modern life. More people now than ever carry on long distance relationships with romantic partners, sometimes for extended periods of time. However today's communication systems are impersonal and generic. E-mail, for example, is often read and written on the same computer and at the same desk that one uses for any other kind of communication. Phone calls and SMS messages are sent and received between partners on the same devices used for work and business.

Mutsugoto is a new kind of communication device meant to be used only by romantic couples in long distance relationships. Breaking away from traditional systems intended for operation by any pair of people in any situation, the form and function of Mutsugoto is designed to more strongly reflect the character of an intimate bond.

Mutsugoto is meant to be installed in the bedrooms of two remote partners. Each partner lays on their bed and wears a special ring that emits an infrared beacon, visible only to a camera mounted above. A computer vision system tracks the movement of the ring finger and projects virtual pen strokes on the user's own body. The silhouette of the user is also captured and serves as the "canvas" for this drawing. The completed drawing is transmitted to the remote site where the same silhouette is projected softly on the bed. After laying in the same position, the distant partner can reveal the drawing by tracing their ring finger around their body. Special bed linens and curtains were crafted to enhance the mood of this romantic communication environment.

Publications and Links

  • Mutsugoto was installed in a special exhibition entitled Touch Me at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, 16 June - 29 August 2005.

  • Tomoko's personal web site.