A design should solve a problem. In this age of information people are so overwhelmed with technology that, it seems, our main priority is to consume. And our need to consume has created some grandiose problems.
The world is producing so much stuff that we are running out of materials for it, harming our planet in the process. We make products out of non-recyclable materials, we make products with built-in obsolescence, we make products that only last a few years. All that ends up in a landfill. That can’t be good. It isn’t.
It seems that people are becoming more and more intelligent, but, at the same time, more and more mindless. We don’t think what we are doing outside of things that we are told to do. Our everyday lives are becoming filled with automatic tasks, enabled by everyday conveniences. Everything is on-demand. That makes our lives easier, in a way, but at the same time it disconnects us from it. We are no longer aware of our actions.
In the world full of choice, people are choosing not to choose. We see millions and millions devices produced that serve very few purposes. And we see hundreds of variations of that same device. Different color, different size, different make, different OS, different connector, different processor, etc., etc. In the end, people just pick the most popular or best rated option and get on with their lives. However, the humankind is capable of eradicating all these problems. Today. We have the technology to become mindful. We have the technology to live with the planet, not on it. We have the technology to become smarter.
Solution? A unified(a) personal(b) smart(c) device. A device that is always with you. A device that helps you live, instead of living the life for you.
Unified. Works with all the electronic devices around or with you.
Personal. Works for you and you only.
Smart. Artificial intelligence & processing power.
Let me start by describing how it all works. The Mind is a round, touch-enabled, device. Its exterior is composed out of glass and ceramics. The device is jam packed with features: Bluetooth, Wi-fi, IR, cameras, gyroscopes and other sensorics.
It’s meant to be held in hand, as well as docked in the dedicated areas on other devices. It does not matter which way is up – gyroscopes rotate the UI so the content is displayed correctly.
The user has the device (The Mind) with him at all times, but whenever he needs to interact with another product, he places The Mind on it (The Body). Natural and intuitive.
The simplest of examples would be a small wireless speaker. Once The Mind is placed on the body of the speaker in its dedicated area (The Dock), the device opens up your music playlist. From then on you can either control the Mind by touch or with your voice.
This simple action is already a tiny step towards finding solutions to problems one, two and three. One – the speaker is made from highly recyclable aluminium and renewable cork materials. Two – it makes you think what music you want to listen to. It makes you choose the album, the artist or the song. It makes you appreciate the music more, rather than mindlessly consuming everything that the device serves you. And lastly – three – the speaker needs no computing power. It just needs a bluetooth/wi-fi receiver and an amplifier. It works with other devices and is completely visually neutral.
Now, for the interface. The UI has to feel and be natural. It has to be a Yes – No driven UI. If the Mind asks you a question, you don’t have to go out of your way to answer it. The device must ask questions that require the user to think, but to answer with a yes or a no.
It is important for the Mind to learn. It has to be really personal and has to prompt the user occasional input. It can analyse the user’s habits and suggest activities.
Once the patterns are learnt, the Mind can start suggesting subtle changes to the user’s habits, raising awareness and mindfulness, stimulating the user’s brain to think before he takes action. “Setting the temperature to 25°C will consume 20% more electricity. Would you consider setting it to 23°C degrees instead?”
This, in turn, should help to reduce the user’s impact on the environment, reducing the carbon footprint and making the consumer more aware of the repercussions his actions have.
For this part, let’s talk products.
Imagine a world with no keys, no wallets, no mobile phones. No buttons to press, no switches to turn. Everything fits into one device. Everything fits into your pocket.
Picture this: you come back home after work and you dock The Mind into the body of a screen. All your data is in the cloud, all your preferences and confidential information is on The Mind. Everything is there, on your desktop screen, instantly. The only thing that the screen needs is a graphics processor to do its work. Once you’re done, simply remove The Mind from the dock, and the computer will hibernate. Remember – your personal stuff is with you.
Worried about safety and privacy? Worry not – all you need is a security card that fits in your wallet. The Mind checks if the card is in close proximity and enables the device. If the card is further from the device than the set distance, the device will completely deactivate. Of course, you can always rely on the fingerprint sensor to enable the device. It’s truly personal.
It’s very important that the new device is compatible with the older technology and the devices you already have. It does not require you to discard older products, reducing the impact on the environment.
Last but not least, I’d like to address media consumption. The way we listen to music, nowadays, would be the perfect example. Have you ever noticed how mindlessly we hit the play button and leave the music on for hours, without actually appreciating it or taking the time to check who the artist is? Yet alone finding out what is the idea behind the artist’s album, etc.? The growing popularity of record players and records is slowly taking care of this problem, but why not take it a step further? By placing the Mind on the Record Player it instantly recognises what’s playing, presenting you with more info about the artist, the album or the song. It can display lyrics, show behind-the-scenes footage or introduce you to a track that’s not on the record. Not only the user starts to appreciate the music more, but he also connects with the artist in the most convenient and simple way.
All this is possible now. We have the technology. We have the knowledge. All we need is a company that really cares about the user, the environment, and our mental health.
Smart devices shouldn’t make the humanity mindless. They should make the humanity… smarter.