Project Profile

In chinese traditional culture, we usually write a sentence at the beginning of the letter: “见字如晤” to express a warm greeting. It means that to read the letters here is just like being face-to-face with the mailer. There is a great fascination and charm in our hand-writings which cannot be replaced by virtual texts and symbols. Close relatives or friends can always sense the other’s emotions through their handwritings, even if they are thousands of miles apart.

“The Sand Letter 书沙台” is an intelligent hardware device. Paired with the accompanying iPhone or Android app, The Sand Letter transforms a user’s digital handwriting into physical writing on a miniature plot of sand, regardless of distance. It provides a new way to emotionally connect friends and loved ones who live far apart.When no one is using The Sand Letter to compose messages or write letters, the device will automatically continue to record the current time – a unique sand clock.This product proposes a slower-paced lifestyle and was designed to remind people of simpler times when friends, family and lovers still composed real messages to each other.


What it Does

1.Sand Messenger

Users can send “sand letters” to others via the app, anytime, anywhere. A user simply has to draw a character, letter or drawing on their touchscreen and the app will rapidly translate and transmit their handwriting into etchings on the sand of the device.

2.Sand Clock

When no one is using The Sand Letter to compose messages or write letters, the device can automatically continue to record the current time – like a unique sand clock.

3.Social Platform

Users can upload their “sand letters” as photos on the app for people to discover. They can also view, like and comment on other users’ photos.


How it Works

First, the app records a user’s handwriting on the touchscreen of their mobile phone or tablet as a series of coordinate points in a matrix. Next, the positions of these coordinate points are sent to another user’s mobile device via internet 3. Finally, the mobile device translates and transmits these digital coordinates to the intelligent Sand Letter hardware. The hardware device then translates the digitized set of coordinates into a real-life coordinate plane-map which is impressed into the sand by the integrated stylus. When a new message arrives, the stylus will first erase the previous message before inscribing the next.


Why We Did It

In today’s digital age, most of our interpersonal communications are digitized. Compared to the days of writing letters or even sending telegrams, delivering messages has become incredibly simple and rapid. While these advances have undoubtedly improved life in many ways, the sheer number and breadth of different social media platforms, programs and apps regularly result in an staggering, overwhelming and paralyzing information overloads and often the most important messages accidentally are ignored.
We believe that virtual expressions and characters cannot replace our actual thoughts and feeling. At the same time, we cannot reject or ignore the omnipresence of mobile devices and applications in our lives. We propose a compromise.

With this in mind, “The Sand Letter” is designed for us to re-experience the presence of real messages, to remind us of simpler times when friends, family and lovers still composed real messages to each other, to allow us to re-gain that warm feeling of receiving a physical letter in the post just as we did in our childhood.


Project Reviews

2015.06 – 2015.11       Designing, sampling and looking for cooperative labels

2015.12                        The sand letter began to initiate crowdfunding on Internet platforms.

2015.12                        The sand letter was first put on display in Fangsuo, Chengdu

2016.01                       The sand letter launched parallel exhibition “The letters” in Xiaoxuetang

2016.03                      The sand letter completed its volume production. Officially launched external sales.