Feel connected to your loved one in a playful and engaging way

Master Project | Year: 2017

Watch prototype vedio here: Demo link 1 Demo link 2

What is CoBoard?

CoBoard is a collaborative board that allow multiple users access to the same board from practically anywhere. Users located in different places can share this same surface to write text or draw things on. CoBoard expects to fill the lack of temperature and emotion in remote interaction. Furthermore, let people feel more connected to a loved one in an engaging way.

Problem-Tired of Distance

There might be tons of ways out there to communicate remotely nowadays. Digital technology lets us email, text message, voice or video call people. It’s undeniable that these technologies accelerate our communication every day and make long distance interaction no longer a problem. That’s great, but still it’s nothing like being in the same space.

Imagine a long distance couple who can’t enjoy partner’s company. The only way for them to communicate is having to carry smart phone all around to send text messages or video calls. Not only it makes one looks like a pathetic smartphone addict but more importantly strengthen the feeling of loneliness.

Communication reaching out only from smartphones or computers can make one strongly feel that one’s partner is not by their side. Until now technology hasn’t been designed to help us create the feeling of living together. As a result, I start to think about another communication way that could give the feeling of living together, meanwhile, enhance the temperature and emotion within the interaction.

Inspiration - Share Board Share Life

CoBoard is inherently designed for fasten long distance relationship. The idea of CoBoard comes from seeing some family or couples who live together would have a little message board in their house. The board usually be hung on the wall or placed beside the refrigerator. Everyone in the house can easily leave a message or write personal memo on it. The board itself becomes a surface contains the evidence of people living together in the same space. As time goes by, accumulate a feeling of living together by sharing a board together.

Take the same scenario mentioned above, imagine seeing handwritten message from your partner left on CoBoard beside fridge when you are drinking your morning coffee. Doesn’t it feel better comparing just received a message from your partner? It gets the feeling that you and your partner live together but just have different life routine.

Feature - Presence of Process

Another major benefit of communicating with CoBoard is that one is able to see the process of making. Each and every single strokes that users create, CoBoard would simultaneously synchronize and display in real-time. Usually with sending text messages or pictures, one can only see the finished state. However, CoBoard enable one to speculate in a first-person perspective when your partner is creating a message or image. The shared experience is intimate and immersive. It’s a new way to interact with your loved one, and to feel each other’s presence when you are far away.

Although CoBoard was originally a project for couples in long-distance relationships, it’s suitable for anyone who wants to feel the loved one’s presence.

Imagine another scenario that a kid at home is drawing. Parents in the office with CoBoard hanging on the wall could see the whole drawing process of their children. And what more meaningful is that eventually the drawing creates a unique painting hanging on the wall.

The aim of CoBoard is to create a form that a user could ‘live with’, one that is aesthetically integrated into their home over time and, in doing so, engenders slower forms of consumption of digital text or pictures in meaningful ways.

Development - How CoBoard Was Made

CoBoard is made by raspberry pi with 3,5” LCD touch screen on top. The whole application is combined with wooden frame in order to create a board-like appearance.

Software side, CoBoard uses Node.js to create a server and Socket.IO as a library to build real-time collaborative communication. Inside the application, update color function and eraser function are added. Therefore, users are able to change the color of brush or switch brush to eraser.

What makes CoBoard even cooler is, it’s connected with a printer, which means users can print their creation out and save it as a Thermal label sticker. The printer, Brother QL 500, is a black and white thermal printer connected with raspberry pi through USB.

Design Concept - Wabi Sabi

The whole design of CoBoard embraces the concept of Wabi Sabi. Wabi Sabi is a traditional Japanese philosophy that “nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.” CoBoard applied the concept of Wabi Sabi in three aspects.

Nothing Lasts
First, choosing wooden frame to evoke a sense of the warm qualities. Also, the wooden material gives a sense of liveness, it will age with time, which mapped well with the aesthetic of Wabi-Sabi.

Nothing is Finished
Second, the display surface of CoBoard is in an always on and updating process. Through the on-going state of being in construction to represent the unfinished concept of Wabi-Sabi.

Nothing is Perfect
Third, CoBoard uses printer to literally print screen out a digital image. The fragility and impermanence of printed media might instead trigger people to treasure the ephemeral.

Future Work - What to expect

Due to the restriction of raspberry pi LCD touch screen, the writing or drawing experience is not as smooth as using smartphones. The touch screen is not sensitive enough to control the strokes and distinguish the stress. This somehow limits me to develop different kind of brushes. Once the hardware technology could be overcome, I would like to develop multipule kind of brushes for CoBoard in the future. So that users could have, for example, pencil, crayon or fountain pen to play with.

Also LCD touch screen compares to other possible screen options, for example - ePaper or eInk, is more power consuming and technical appearance. Currently, CoBoard uses LCD touch screen because it’s the cheapest and easiest option so far I can get. However, in the future, CoBoard is open to apply ePaper / eInk screen for further improvement.


CoBoard begins from my little personal problem - having a long distance relationship. It evokes me to rethink about remote interaction and to question the existed solutions we have right now. Looking back to the whole journey of coming up with the idea of doing CoBoard and decide how to implement it, it’s a very meaningful experience for me. I also learned a lot by making the CoBoard itself since it involves both hardware and software development. To me, making CoBoard is like raising my own baby, and it’s the product I would really want to use it myself. At the same time, I hope CoBoard provides people who have the same problem as me an innovative and different communicate option from those existed techonolgies. And make people around the world to feel connected to someone they love because that’s the most important thing in the world.

Watch prototype vedio here: Demo link 1 Demo link 2