Silicone Valley: A Design Intervention Meant to Encourage Healthier Technological Habits

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Silicone Valley is a Student Winner in the Service Design category in the 2019 Core77 Design Awards.

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Today’s cultural demand for high professional productivity and output regularly leaves our physical and emotional health in a compromised state. Oftentimes, technological products meant to streamline tasks are only partially designed with consideration of the human body, and can result in poor user habits that affect one’s well being.

Designer Pinelopi Papadimitraki has created five speculative inflatable prototypes that react to technologically induced habits using physical interventions. As Papadimitraki describes, “this work [is designed to] disrupt our current tech-based quirks or generate new ones, as a means to enact alternative interaction repertoires between ourselves and our environment.”

Lax inflates in order to tell you to take a work break.

Each product is engineered to “interrupt” one’s own ingrained technological habits, pivoting one’s attention to spacial awareness, social realities, and cumulative tensions to form healthier habits. For example, the computer mouse has barely changed since it was invented. ‘Lax’ is a product that would navigate a worker’s workflow by measuring heart rate through a biometric sensor. If and when enough stress accumulates, the mouse inflates and becomes virtually unusable. By offering cognitive space, the somewhat humorous design not only allows for a break, but hopefully also encourages a higher awareness of the tasks at hand.


“Design fictions are used to question our usual ways of doing things and re-establish context awareness, encourage self-reflection or infuse social life with diversity and intimacy. In doing so, they attempt to shift the habitual direction of our relationship with our technologies.” —Pinelopi Papadimitraki 

“Airborne” is another prospective design that helps people navigate harmful pollution in the air by offering up safer, less polluted routes in cities. The device tracks levels of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s). If VOCs around a given area exceed safety limits, the belt will inflate and subtly restrict the wearer’s diaphragm to prompt them in a safer direction.

‘Z Shell’ is a mask that initiates a screen-free bedtime ritual that lulls a user more easily into their nightly rest. When the user breathes into Z-Shell’s concave compartment, a temperature sensor identifies a respiratory rate. The device then performs a breathing exercise in one’s own hands. Once the users breathing has slowed, it deflates, allowing for a meditative practice that’s intuitive and operates completely offline.

Z-Shell is a bedtime ritual that allows for a more restful night’s sleep.

“This work uses speculative design practices to suggest that different relationships to our networked technologies are possible,” says Papadimitraki. Forming constructive relationships to our technologies and work environments is crucial if we are to sustain our well being. We must consider our ‘techno-mediated habits’ within design to challenge the designated use of technology, all in the hope that technology can become incrementally less harmful and more healing.

‘Detext’ is meant to remind the user to look up from their phone in instances like walking or driving by inflating to lift the head upward.

Learn more about Silicone Valley on our Core77 Design Awards Site of 2019 Honorees.

Source: core77

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