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What do Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, WeChat, YouTube, Tumblr and Pinterest all have in common? They don’t exist. Not in real life, anyway. Turn off the screen, and we have no evidence of any of these social empires.

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As a designer, I love observing how people live. The world is constantly changing around us, and new societal needs become design opportunities. While I was a student at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and then again at IDEO in San Francisco, I learned first-hand that the most elegant, innovative, and disruptive ideas are the ones that take the shape of what’s missing in the world — like a puzzle piece — using that negative space to inform a new solution. So I look for missing puzzle pieces. This process is how Pixinote came to be.

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In the past 10 years we’ve been introduced to an array of digital tools to manage our lives. I’ve been curious about the effect this rapid transition has had on our relationships. We now have cameras in our pockets, and photo sharing has become our new storytelling mechanism. Our relationships have migrated to the cloud, where we post 1,800,000,000 photos each day. We’ve never been more informed or accessible. So what’s missing?

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Ironically, the advent of always-on, virtual correspondence has brought with it new forms of social isolation that we’re only just beginning to understand. In her book Alone Together, MIT professor Sherry Turkle describes our current interactions as having traded connection for communication, mistakenly thinking they are the same. In other words, through our devices, we are communicating constantly but rarely connecting emotionally.

This felt like a massive design opportunity. In response, we asked the question: How might we build a platform for fostering deeper relationships?

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Our vision has been to build the world’s first physical messaging platform — a hybrid channel, merging the best practices of social networks with the sensory experience of physical, printed media.

It’s time to reinvent the role of physical mail in our lives. Up until now, physical mail has been running parallel with our new, digital worlds — a completely separate distribution system with no connection to our cloud-based social spheres. By integrating a seamless online-to-offline supply chain, we’re now able to effortlessly send our digital media in physical form with daily delivery to 100% of US households.

Think of the implications. Our iOS app has successfully confirmed that physical messaging is a powerful format for conveying the complex and nuanced communications essential to building deeper relationships: meaningfulness, intentionality, authenticity, gratitude and generosity. The opportunities extend to B2B applications as well. Brands have a similar need to cultivate deeper connections with their customers.

This is where we’ll be diving in at Matter this year, performing the Drunken Walk with the incredible core team and the extended Matter community. In the meantime, if you haven’t already, grab the Pixinote app here and follow along.