The FriendlyFlame is a prototype of a tangible device build with Arduino, Android and papier-mâché to encourage and visualize social contact. The idea was formed in the lecture „Building Interaction Interfaces“ in a group of three students. As a metaphor for the burning fire of friendship, the flame embodies the level of social activity of its owner, based on informations retrieved from Facebook events. In order to keep the flame burning, the user has to nurture it by accepting invitations or else it will die down.

After a phase of context analysis, different ideas and designs were tested on how to support social contact before the initial concept was found, e.g. a device that shows if your friends are available for meeting or that changes color depending on the number of meetings.











Paper prototyping was used to test the design idea with users and refine it with their feedback.











The final design uses a wire-framed papier-mâché sculpture with Arduino and an Android phone. The flame checks the status of Facebook events of the user and shows his overall outgoingness, ranging from yellow (very active) to black (rarely accepts invitations). The more events the user accepts, the brighter the FriendlyFlame will glow. It is also possible to see the status of specific events by the color of the flame:

  • blue = not sure
  • red = declined
  • green = accepted
  • purple = maybe










With an Android smartphone, the status of the events can be changed, which also changes the color of the flame itself. The prototype was tested with users which allows for future modification by their given feedback and offered interesting insights for other uses.

For further information see our essay on this project.