Researchers at the now-defunct Media Lab Europe in Dublin, Ireland, developed a prototype aiming to create that same perception of togetherness using "radio frequency identification" technology to network furniture (no, that's not a typo). For instance, you might be sitting in your living room, and an image of a coffee cup would suddenly appear on your coffee table, alerting you that your partner was enjoying his morning coffee. One of the lead researchers, Dipak Patel, who also works for British Telecom, hopes to pick the project up again soon. Although it might sound a little bizarre—and there are some inevitable privacy complications—the basic awareness of your partner's "presence" might help maintain the intimacy that's so important.
Of course, there will never be a real substitute for living in the same place as your significant other. And I'd be remiss if I didn't disclose the fact that, after my return, Andy and I had several discussions about space—namely, that in the three months I was gone, he'd developed the habit of sleeping spread-eagle, taking up the whole damn bed. But in the end, living apart allowed us to expand ourselves by adapting who we are as a couple. It may not be matching red-leather pants, but that's my kind of marriage.