The digital age has shown us that despite being constantly connected, communication can be a tricky subject matter. Whether you are friends or a romantic couple, distance added to a dynamic can be a minefield to navigate. Lapses in messages, hangouts that can't be scheduled with miles between you and them, or simply lagging behind on chit-chat due to hectic routines, and other problems are constantly written — and meme-ed — about.
When I initially learned about Bond Touch, I was skeptical about the rather unassuming pair of electronic bracelets. Tapping the band activates it, and depending on the number of taps you give, it immediately sends those buzzes to your partner's bracelet.
It sounds pleasant, but neat and computable solutions for complicated matters of the heart tend not to be as perfect as the tech sector would like us to believe. To test the bracelets, I asked a good friend of mine, Grace, to run this experiment with me and see if these bands did what their manufacturers claim to do: "grow closer together wherever you are."
It turns out that Bond Touch — which arrives as a pair of minimalist wristbands at $98 — is not a replacement for communication but rather a delightful supplement for bonding with your dear ones. Grace and I already enjoy amicable rapport but with lockdowns in effect and socializing hanging in limbo due to COVID-19, we haven't been able to see each other as much as we'd like. With our strange landscape in mind, it's intriguing how a sequence of vibrations against the wrist and a gentle neon light blinking in the dark can make you smile to yourself.
Make your own code — Bond Touch has a range of features. The bands come with USB chargers and you can download the app for the bracelets on iOS and Google Play.
Regardless of where your friend or partner is, you can check the weather in their location, browse through past buzzes, and select the color for the light that appears on your band. But the main appeal is the ability to double-tap your band to send a series of "touches" to your friend or partner. If you're feeling really creative, you can start your own code of communication. Three taps for "I love you," one short tap and three long ones for "let's watch this creepy film together," the list goes on.
Of course, there are a few minor downsides: you need to have your Bluetooth connected at all times in order for Bond Touch to work, and the battery runs rather short — slightly over a day, which isn't great for a device without a screen. On a philosophical level, you might even worry, Are we using bracelets to do the talking for us? When you think of Bond Touch as a replacement like that, it sounds perfunctory and even disheartening. After all, communication takes mutual and active effort to be beneficial and enlivening. A vibration alone cannot convey our feelings.
But as a supplement, Bond Touch is wonderful. It added levity to my friendship with Grace. We exchanged little buzzes throughout the days, at times jokingly extending a vibration to play on the other end. We shared photos texted through the app as opposed to our regular iMessage medium.
Bond Touch didn't fundamentally change our friendship. But it provided a sense of closeness in a time where pandemic-induced distances are currently part of life. I may not get to see Grace as much as I would like to but I can send a little buzz to her wrist when she least expects it, as a sisterly way of saying, "Hope you're well." It's one of the sweeter solutions to come out of the tech sector. If your loved ones are far away, a little band that can act like a squeeze on the hand might make lonelier days feel slightly more bearable.