spending time well
Out of Sight is a family of timekeeping devices that helps people spend time on moments that matter by temporarily setting phones aside. The Count timer helps people focus when it's time to hunker down with a task.
Throughout this 7-month capstone project, I lead our team's research and strategy as acted as project manager.
INDUSTRY: Consumer Electronics
EXPERTISE: Product Management, Brand Strategy, Design Strategy, Ethnography, Research, User Interaction, Interface Design, Packaging
COLLABORATORS: Zhiyi (Zoe) Gan, Julian Mickelson
The average American spends four hours a day on their phone.
While our phones do a lot of good, our constant connectivity often equates to four hours we’re less engaged, productive, or focused. The majority of Americans own smartphones, yet 47% report wanting to spend less time on their devices. It’s a significant problem and one many of us share.
Ethnographic interviews, observation, and secondary research led us to Out of Sight, a family of products that helps us spend time on moments that matter. Above, we conducted intercepts with busy city residents as part of our initial need finding.
We used paper artifacts, like the pie charts shown above, to understand how busy urban dwellers prioritize their time.
We also measured our own phone habits, as well as others, to gain a sense for the role our phones play in our everyday experiences.
After defining our product, we asked potential users to test and reflect on the experience of physically putting their phone away.
We tested our prototype in one-on-one interviews and gathered feedback that influenced which features and aspects of the form made up our final solution.
In our interviews and observations it quickly became evident that time is a tool we all use. But, nearly everyone we spoke with talked about how they struggled to balance instant gratification and long-term fulfillment.
In our research, we heard over and over about the ‘black hole’ effect: How you might reach for your phone to check the weather, only to realize 10 minutes later that you’re scrolling through Instagram and don’t recall the forecast.
Ultimately, people relish in the ‘guilty pleasures’ that their phones provide.
Rather than punishing people, we wanted to reframe their experience -- and focus on the 47% that already want to make a behavior change.
All three contain mechanical components that are activated when your phone is present in the device.
Chime is an alarm clock helps people unwind at night and wake up in the morning, phone-free.
Flow, a grandfather clock, helps us be more present with friends and family in shared living spaces.
The first product we’ve developed, Count, is a timer that tunes out distractions while tracking and visualizing time spent on tasks.
First, users press their phone into the slot until it is out of view. Once inside, Count will detect when the phone’s presence using Qi wireless charging.
When it’s time to work, users can turn the dial to set up to 60 minutes of phone-free time.
When the timer is set, the face will fill up with color, indicating how much time remains.
As time elapses, users can refer to the color wheel and dot time indication to help them better visualize their time.
And if the phone’s battery drops below 20%, it will automatically begin to charge.
When time is up, the phone will reappear from the slot.
In a pinch, users can pause the timer or remove their phone by pressing a button on the product’s back.
While an app shouldn’t be at the forefront of the experience, we learned through testing that software integration could present greater customization for features like ‘do not disturb’ and auto-reply settings.
Software could also allow people to manage their data and visualize their Count usage.
This would be an ideal opportunity to work with existing screen management apps, complementing them with Count’s physical features.
In developing Count, it was critical that we set the right tone for our consumers.
Bold statements, bright colors, and a clean finish reflect the moments of encouragement, confidence, and calm we aim to offer people when they set out to complete a task.
The packaging holds everything needed to begin using Count: a quickstart manual, micro-USB cord, and the product itself.
The quickstart manual offers clear instructions for use in warm, cheerful tone.
An increasing percentage of the US population are digital natives or exhibit traits of heavy phone use. And working professionals admit to spending over eight working hours a week on their phones.
Its physical interactions make the experience rewarding, not punitive.
Our marketing strategy employs paid advertising on social platforms and digital media outlets that focus on design and technology.
We also aim to build relationships with potential retailers and commercial partners early through connections with institutions like MoMA and WeWork.
After successfully bringing Count to market, we anticipate introducing the Chime alarm clock and a group version of Count in 2020.