This project aims to help individuals maintain emotionally connected relationships over long distances by providing tools for consistent communication across time zones. Addressing challenges identified in research and interviews, it focuses on overcoming the difficulties of synchronizing calls and the impersonal nature of asynchronous communication.


The goal is to enable people to maintain strong, emotionally connected bonds with loved ones, reducing feelings of disconnection and loneliness, and improving social and mental health.


The project presented a significant challenge: devising an innovative solution in a market saturated with established communication apps like WhatsApp, Microsoft Teams, and FaceTime. These platforms, with their user-friendly interfaces and large user bases, already offered calls, video chats, and texts, making it tough to introduce a novel concept. Despite the convenience of these existing apps, our research identified specific pain points, particularly in managing time zone differences and the impersonality of current synchronous communication methods.

Our task was to think outside the box, to create a personal, shared space in the communication experience that differed from existing platforms. This required a deep understanding of user needs and an unconventional approach to design. The result was the creation of virtual rooms for asynchronous intimacy, addressing these unique challenges with timezone-aware features and shared spaces for emotional connections. This experience not only tested our creativity and problem-solving skills but also significantly enhanced my abilities as a UX designer, teaching me the importance of innovative thinking in a competitive and evolving market.


Navigating the problem space involved conducting interviews and extensive research to understand the challenges of maintaining emotionally connected relationships over long distances. We focused on individuals who rely on digital communication tools to stay connected with distant friends and family.

Exploring the Problem Space:

Time Zone Differences:

Our interview protocol included questions to understand the emotional and practical aspects of long-distance communication. Key questions aimed to uncover the challenges and emotional impacts of such communication:

1. "How often do you communicate with distant loved ones, and what tools do you use?"

2. "What challenges do you face with current communication methods?"

3. "Do time zone differences affect your ability to connect?"

4. "Can you describe any moments of miscommunication or misunderstanding?"

5. "What emotional impact does long-distance communication have on your relationships?"

Initial Interviews:

Interview Findings:

Interviewees expressed difficulty in coordinating calls across time zones, often leading to inconvenient timings and missed opportunities for connection.

Communication Struggles:

Many found it hard to maintain the same level of closeness as in-person interactions. They struggled with the impersonal nature of texts, calls, and video chats.

Emotional Impact:

Feelings of loneliness and disconnection were common, even with the availability of communication technologies.

Missed Everyday Interactions:

Many participants missed the small, everyday activities they used to do with loved ones.

Technology Adaptation:

Particularly older family members encountered challenges in adapting to different communication apps.





IU Grand Challenges

Diabetes Prevention

Team of 4

2 Months


Research Insights:

Target User:

Identifying the Key Features:

Design Rationale:


Prototype Sketches:

Key Findings from Internal Evaluation:

High Fidelity Prototype:

Further Evaluations:

Overall Impression and Actionable Insights:


Recommendations for the Final Prototype:

Long-Distance Relationships:

Studies showed the difficulty in understanding emotions in long-distance friendships and the challenges of time zone differences in family communication. 90% of individuals maintain at least one long-distance friendship, often struggling to fully comprehend emotions compared to in-person interactions.

The insights from our interviews and research coalesced into an innovative design direction, emphasizing the need for more than just another communication platform. We aimed to create a space that not only transcended traditional communication methods but also emulated the intimacy and spontaneity of in-person interactions, adaptable to time zone challenges and diverse user capabilities.

This understanding led to the development of virtual rooms equipped with timezone-aware features and shared spaces for personal expression. These rooms are designed to foster closer emotional bonds and replicate the small, meaningful interactions often missed in long-distance relationships, making the platform accessible and relevant to all age groups.

This exploration significantly deepened our understanding of the nuances in long-distance communication and guided our approach towards an innovative solution that addresses these complex challenges.

1. Virtual Room for One-on-One Interactions: Users can share a virtual room with their loved ones, fostering a sense of proximity and everyday intimacy in an asynchronous setting.

2. Timezone-Aware Clock: Each room includes a clock displaying the current time in the loved one's timezone, eliminating the need for manual time calculations and helping users recognize and adapt to their loved one's timezone.

3. Day/Night Indicator: A window in the virtual room indicates whether it's day or night in the loved one's location, further aiding in time zone awareness.

4. Co-Customizable Corkboard: This feature allows users to leave notes or share photos, enhancing emotional connection.

5. Emotional Connection Enhancement: The virtual room and corkboard facilitate spontaneous communication without interruptions, reinforcing the bond between users.

These features are grounded in research, such as Griggio et al.'s findings on co-customization, which highlights that personalizing communication interfaces in close relationships can significantly express intimacy. The app's design aims to help users feel close to their loved ones despite time zone differences, while also enabling efficient communication of availability and schedules.

Our decision to design "RoomConnect" is rooted in its ability to provide a more personal and asynchronous communication experience for users across different time zones. This design choice addresses the unmet needs related to time zone awareness, a frequent source of frustration for users of existing communication platforms.

The virtual room concept offers a unique, personalized, and shared space, distinct from current platforms. Each element in the room is purposefully designed to meet key user requirements, with self-explanatory features that cater to different age groups, enhancing the overall user experience.

This personalized approach not only sets our solution apart from other communication tools but also aims to facilitate smoother communication, fostering a sense of closeness among users and their distant loved ones.

Synchronous vs. Asynchronous:

Research highlighted a preference for synchronous communication but acknowledged the disruption caused by time zone differences.

Intimacy through Co-Customization:

Research indicated that personal elements in a virtual space can express intimacy, enhancing emotional connections.

Enhanced Online Interactions:

Using virtual manifestations of objects and activities leads to greater social interactions and a sense of closeness.

18-60 Age Group

Special Focus on older adults who are not very tech savvy

Friends and Family separated by time zones

Solution is meant for all but mostly centered around:

Our prototype focused on facilitating consistent communication, with tasks like sending notes and pictures, identifying day/night status, and understanding time and user status in different time zones.

Internal Walkthrough Results:

The internal walkthroughs revealed several user experience issues:

1. Users were unclear about the purpose of dots on profile photos.

2. Confusion arose when interacting with the corkboard, leading directly to photo albums.

3. Questions emerged about the duration for which a note stays posted.

Cognitive Load with Color-Coded Circles:

Initially, we decided to display the availability status of the users as coloured-coded circles, each color representing a different status. However, we found that this approach could pose a certain level of cognitive load on the users. They may have to remember and recall what each color means. Moreover, it would especially be difficult for older adults to interpret.

Intuitiveness of Call Button:

At first, we had the call/video call functionality as a floating button at the bottom right of the screen. However, through the internal walkthrough, we realized that this is not an intuitive way to do that and it doesn’t necessarily align with the industry standards.

Corkboard Interaction:

Our internal walkthrough also revealed that once the user is inside a shared virtual room, they may struggle to find a way to interact with the corkboard. It is not clear if they’re supposed to click on the board itself, the photographs and calendar, or the space on the board. Users may struggle to identify the consequence of their interactions in this case.

Unconventional Presentation:

Although the application has fairly simple screens and the interactions are meaningful but limited. However, the way elements and interactions are being presented is unconventional. It was evident that a new user would struggle to use the application on the first go. Initial guidance is crucial for users, especially older adults, to be able to seamlessly navigate through the app.

Navigation Clarity:

We initially intended to include three items in the navigation bar: a home icon, a call history icon, and an activities icon. Each of these icons served specific purposes, such as navigating back to the home page, accessing the call history page, and viewing all user activities, respectively. However, upon further examination, we realized that the presence of both call history and activities in the navigation bar might be confusing. Users would probably prefer to see activities specific to their individual rooms rather than on a separate screen. Consequently, we decided to remove the activities page from the navigation bar.

Based on the evaluation findings, we made several changes:

1. Removed the redundant navigation bar in the chat room.

2. Assigned different colors to notes, photo borders, and calendar events for clarity.

3. Eliminated the activity function from the navigation bar to reduce confusion.

4. Improved notification visibility for each chat room.

5. Replaced the calling icon with a call history icon and moved the calling function to the action bar.

6. Added both audio and video call options in the action bar.

7. Introduced an onboarding tutorial for new users.

8. Enabled users to set the display duration for notes on the corkboard.

Key Issues Identified from User Evaluations:

1. Clickable Objects Confusion: Users often mistook non-interactive elements like plants as clickable, indicating a need for clearer distinction between interactive and decorative elements.

2. Tedious Note Posting: The process to post notes to the corkboard was perceived as lengthy and complex. Users desired a more streamlined, intuitive method.

3. Stereo Functionality Misunderstanding: Users expected the stereo to control play/pause functions, not just song selection, suggesting a gap between user expectations and actual functionality.

4. Window Functionality Unclear: The window's role in indicating the day/night status of a loved one's timezone was not immediately apparent to users.

5. Clock Display Confusion: Users assumed the clock displayed their local time, not their loved one’s, highlighting a need for clearer indication of its purpose.

The overall user experience was positive, but the evaluation highlighted key areas for improvement. Addressing these issues involves refining the interaction design to make it more intuitive and aligning the app's functionalities with user expectations. Enhancing visual cues, simplifying the note-posting process, and providing clear instructions for the clock and window functionalities are crucial steps. Incorporating these changes will improve user satisfaction and the overall impact of the app, making it a more effective tool for maintaining emotional connections across time zones.

Through RoomConnect, we've not just engineered a platform; we've woven a tapestry of connections, transforming the way we bridge emotional distances. This journey, rooted in deep user empathy and iterative design, reflects a personal commitment to enriching lives, one interaction at a time. It's a testament to the power of technology when directed by the heart, illustrating that the essence of connection lies not in proximity but in understanding and shared experiences. RoomConnect stands as a beacon of innovation, illuminating paths to closer, more meaningful relationships across any distance.