Team: Jay Cooper, Bernice Lai

Project description

NINE is a remote asynchronous messaging system that uses LEDs to codify communication between two users. LEDs are arranged in a 3×3 grid and activated using touch sensors. Users can touch the surface near an LED to activate the LED on their partner’s device while turning off their own. This signals to the partner “I have received your message”, creating a constant back and forth between acknowledging each other’s messages.

NINE is like a “mood board”. The users are sending their present state with LED. They can then “acknowledge” the other person’s mood by turning off the light to marked as seen.

Experience Video

How It Works Video

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Final Images








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Link to the Arduino code

Circuit diagram


Project Context

NINE is an interactive project for long-distance communication; it combines the LED and physical touching to build interpersonal communication. We use light as a signal to messaging each other our moods. The remote presence overcame the distance to know the mood of their friend synchronously. The LED in 9 different positions represents 9 different moods, NINE is connecting people over distance and time zone.

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, people are using more social media, email, phone texting, etc, to communicate with each other, the way people express feelings and emotions through the physical environment is weakened. Since the home is a safer place to stay in and we cannot meet up with our friend, remote presence should be developed more as it is a good choice to stay at home, even in another city, another country. 

For making this project, we are inspired by the friendship lights and IoTConnected Chess Boards. Both of them are physical interaction with lights. Friendship lamps are designed for a long-distance relationship. A simple touch could change the colour of the light and turn on the lights on the other side to signal the person. The lamps are connected to the wifi, it could interact with your friend or lover in real-time even if they are far away. Turn the lights on and change the colour of the light on the other side is a beautiful representation of telling us we are thinking of each other.

IoT Connected Chess Board is an electronic chess board that connects to Wi-Fi. Each of the users would get the board with the pieces of one side (black or white). The board would light up to indicate where the other player pieces. and the colour coded red for rooks, green for Knights, blue for bishops, purple for Queens, Pawns are white and yellow slash gold for kings. Once the person on the other side moves the pieces, the light would change on your side. It’s a really strong interaction with friends rather than just play it online. The use of the physical environment and the light colours with different representations makes them feel like the other player is right in front of them.

Our project connects people in a thoughtful way. Once a person wants to talk with their friend, there must be a reason, maybe it is what happened to them, or it may be a topic to be discussed, mood and emotion may be important reasons for chatting. Just like what happened to them that made them happy, they wanted to share with their friends. If they are angry, they need someone to complain. We can know the state of our friends in the first place and signal them back to tell us we are available. The relationship between friends or lovers would bond two people together, they could have a personalized interaction with each other. They could decide what each of the 9 LEDs represent, to make it their own password. 

As we decided each LEDs represent a mood, we used two different ways to know what we want to tell. Jay is using the labels, he sticks them next to the light to know which mood he wants to message to Bernice. Bernice is using the colours of paper and lights to know the mood. We want to make the work more decorative, so Bernice folds the origami lamps on each LED with various colour paper. Red represents angry, blue is joy, white is fresh, yellow is happy, pink is curious, green is hungry, black is bored, purple is fear and orange is excited. The colourful papercraft looks like the wagashi dessert on the plate. 

In our project, each touch button can instantly blink the LED, and the LED on the other users’ side would remain on until the other user turns it off. This is an exchange of our state to each other. NINE used 9 lights to tell us how your friend is doing. Sometimes, to know how a friend feels, the object could be more representative than the words. The combination of remote presence and physical touch makes people feel closer rather than video chatting or texting, it’s closer to in-person interaction.




Sarah Al-Mutlaq, Sarah. “T³: Connected Chess Boards.” News – SparkFun Electronics,


Uncommon Goods Blog Team. “Touch, Technology, and Giving Back: Meet the Creators of the Long Distance Friendship Lamp -.” The Goods, 24 July. 2017,