Meet Blink: Sharing Love Through Tech & Light

SapientRazorfish harnesses themes of lighthouses, stars, & lightning bugs to spread the love.

by Rani Shah

Blink was designed for families with sick children as a way to stay connected while undergoing medical treatment. This device, showcased by SapientRazorfish and spearheaded by the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC), was recently awarded the Interaction Award at the 2017 Core77 Design Awards. 

Blink is a custom-built device which allows parents and children to express their emotions and presence remotely through various hues of light produced by sets of taps and movements. 


Blink's website describes its language by the following:

'Shaking one Blink sends the corresponding orb a green-illuminated message saying "Hello." Two taps send a blue-hued "Good Night," and three taps send a glowing pink "I love you." Messages received during sleep hours are saved in a queue for the morning when a child wakes. While we offered a set of color-coded messages, we found families enjoyed giving them their own unique meaning.'

AdForum had the chance to discuss with the brains behind Blink: The SR Blink Team & Lisa Mitchell, VP of Programs and Services at Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) of Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana.



How many families are currently using Blink?

Lisa Mitchell: There were 6 families that tried Blink technology. They were all very excited to participate in the pilot.  


What were the inspiration sources for Blink? In terms of the people who you aimed to reach as well as the literal technology.

The SR Blink Team: Much of our inspiration came from visiting RMHC. We were fortunate enough to meet & hear the stories of families who call it their second home while their child is in treatment. Their insights aligned with what science has proven: children heal faster when they're near the ones they love.

We knew we wanted to create a digital-to-physical experience that was accessible to children of all ages - one that kept families in close contact during these trying times. The themes of lighthouses, stars, lightning bugs – means of non-verbal lighted communications and the stories behind them – and many others helped us land on our core idea: creating a language of love - through light.

Technologies like Raspberry Pi, accelerometers, Electron board, IoT devices and cloud platforms reminded us that creating this custom device in-house was very possible. And while the Blink's UI and exterior is designed to be uncomplicated, the tech inside is almost as advanced as a modern phone.


What would be the ultimate dream you’d like to achieve with a technology like Blink?

The SR Blink Team: We would love to see a set of Blinks being given to every family who has an extended stay at RMHC. This technology would only be a small part of the experience they provide, but we believe it could be an integral part of every family's stay.

Blink continuing to be a tool to mitigate fear and loneliness during treatment is the dream. Extending that comfort to RMHC families worldwide and to all-new types of patients is the ultimate dream.



Any unexpected reactions or use of Blink that you have found interesting? 

Lisa Mitchell: The families were intrigued by Blink and discovered how fun it was and how much joy it gave them. They were also very appreciative of RMHC Chicago.


What does the future of Blink or Blink technology look like?

The SR Blink Team: During our testing phases with Blink, patients began creating their own languages with gestures and lights. Even younger patients with limited literacy were able to use it with ease. This helped us realize that there is a future for other patients besides the ones at RMHC.

We hope our findings are part of a trend in the medical industry. Simple communication devices, like Blink, could be used as rehabilitation devices for stroke victims who've lost verbal abilities, young children with speech development issues, patients afflicted with muscular dystrophy and many other instances. Time and more studies will tell.

With national rollout anticipated, the Blink experience could be introduced to more than 300 houses, impacting thousands of families each year. Our goal is to evolve and test Blink to meet the needs of sick children, as well as patients of all ages with physical and communication impairments. 


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