“Intimate” iPhone App Not Actually Intimate

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Because there’s nothing like actual human touch, mediated through your phone screen, the new iPhone app Touch Room allows participates to actually touch whomever they're communicating with. If the words actually and touch made no sense to you in that context, you’re fantastic at reading comprehension, and I think we’re going to get along famously.

Touch Room is a newly launched iPhone app. The user sends an invitation to someone to join them in a Touch Room (erm). After accepting the invitation, each person’s finger shows up as a red dot on the other person’s screen. If the two participants' red dots overlap, both phones vibrate to  confirm that truly, the other person is also touching their phone screen. The thousands of miles between you melt, the space separating you evaporates, and it’s just the two of you left in all the cold, empty universe, staring at your phones, just as relationships should be.

The creators seem fully aware of the limitations of their app, which they acknowledge “seems quite useless.” Chris Allick says that he and his co-developer Pablo Rochat see Touch Room as “a thought-provoking experience," prompting questions like, "Are designers and technologists creating products and experiences that actually help us and make us feel more connected?” Certainly,Touch Room contrasts with both image-centric social media and with the phone’s original purpose — which was talking, in case you forgot. But that doesn't make it enlightening or enjoyable. (And however revolutionary it all sounds, recall that the app Pair had a similar feature allowing couples to “thumbkiss,” which is basically the same thing.)

Perhaps it's appealing for those in long-distance relationships — to have the full attention of their partner directed at the screen, thinking about them — but in the end, it's really just a red dot and a phone vibrating in your lonely hand. Sorry, did Touch Room bum you out?

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