Closing the Thinking-Calling Gap


The "Thinking-Calling" Gap - A Tragedy of Modern Life

We've all heard of the "Knowing-Doing" Gap.  But what is the "Thinking-Calling" Gap?

When asked, "How often do you think of your parents or loved ones?”, most people think of their loved ones quite often - maybe a few times a day. But most people only call their parents once a week or even less. This Thinking-Calling gap seems to exist regardless of distance. Of course, if your parents live right down the street, the gap is smaller but often the gap still exists.

On the flip side, social connections, especially with our family, are important for us all.  It is true that no one wants to be a bother.  This is even more true of older adults. They go out of their way to stay out of their kids' way, and are very conscious about not calling too often.

Thus, the tragedy.  We think about each other all the time.  But today's busy lifestyle or family etiquette keeps us from really connecting.  This may be one of the reasons that social networking websites have become so popular in recent years. We all long for better communication and interaction with those we care about. Research has shown that loneliness and isolation are a major issue with our aging population, and often lead to depression, which usually causes other health issues.

How to Connect without Interrupting?

So, how do we close this gap? What if there were a way we could convey to our loved ones that we are thinking about them?

What if there were a way to maintain a sense of connectedness without fear of intruding?

What if there were a way to open a window of our lives to our loved ones, and vice versa, so we could stay in touch and be aware of what each other is up to, but without getting in each other's way?

The Story of the Presence Lamp

The Presence Lamp was an early experiment done by researchers.  They built a lamp and then connected it to the internet. They gave it a motion sensor so it could sense when someone was near.  Let's say you have one in your living room, and your father who lives in Chicago, also has one.  When you get home, your lamp senses your presence, and then sends a signal over the internet to your father's lamp that turns it on.  It doesn't do anything else.  There are no reply buttons.  It simply acts as a way of sharing your status with a loved one.

It turns out that these kinds of "peripheral awareness" and "minimal communication" tools go a long way toward people feeling a genuine emotional connection with each other.

Perhaps surprising to a lot of young people, they don't get a call from their parents every time they get home.  Seniors are usually very careful about not being a bother, perhaps to a fault.


Emota is taking the knowledge gained from social and emotional connectedness research, and rethinking how these techniques and methodologies can be applied in the lives of everyday people who want to stay better connected to their families without being intrusive.