SneezeLove –

Daragh Byrne Associate Teaching Professor
School of Architecture, Carnegie Mellon University. Core faculty for MSCD and PhD CD.
Courtesy appointments in the School of Design and the Human Computer Interaction Institute.
Afflilated facilty with the IDeATe network, Block Center for Technology and Society, and CyLab.
Co-Lead of the TRACES Lab. Co-founder and platform lead for a2ru's Ground Works.


Tickle the device’s nose to send an electromechanical ‘sneeze’to another device.

Dates 2020 - 2021

Collaborators Malika Khurana, Zhenfang Chen, & Yang Bai

Devices for remote communication and sending digital gestures have been widely explored in the field of ubiquitous computing. With the lack of social contact during the COVID-19 pandemic and renewed interest in these devices in mind, this work suggests the affordances of a culturally-informed design approach.

SneezeLove, is a device that uses sneezes to communicate that someone is missing you. Users tickle the device’s nose to send an electromechanical ‘sneeze’ to another device. The concept plays on a superstition in Chinese culture that attributes an additional layer of meaning to sneezes, and we found similar beliefs in other cultures that signify that someone out there is thinking of you: hiccups in India, “burning” ears in Ireland.

The device, and its design approach, suggests how low-resolution messages can be enlivened and made more personally meaningful by tapping into expressive and specific cultural superstitions

Related Publications

Khurana, M., Chen, Z., Byrne, D., & Bai, Y. (2021, June). SneezeLove: Embodying Cultural Superstitions in Connected Devices. In Designing Interactive Systems Conference 2021 (pp. 1082-1086).