The thing that interested me most at ITP this year was the plethora of networked light communication devices. All the ones I saw seemed to have something to do with nonverbally keeping in touch with long-distance family and friends. Since we all spend so much time online and on phones talking to our loved ones, I thought this trend towards nonverbal ?nearness? was a nice theme to see emerging.

The Slumber Light, by Michael Jefferson, is essentially a luminescent cube containing a photograph of a distant friend or family member that glows when that person is asleep. The idea is that you and a loved one each get matching Slumber Lights ? each with a photograph of the other inside. Each puts the picture frame next to their bed. The two Slumber lights are networked and attached to sensors underneath the bed. When one of the pair gets into bed and falls asleep, the sensor will send a signal over the internet which will trigger the other Slumber light across the country to glow. Michael Jefferson designed this for a specific long distance relationship between his son, age 3, and his grandmother, age 95. The designer says he is interested in exploring family relationships over large geographical distances:

Nothing really exists to support a long distance relationship that can span four generations, yet the scenario of the dispersed family is becoming more and more common with distances increasing from city to city, state to state, and even country to country.