In her TED talk Connected, but alone? Sherry Turkle suggests that while emailing, texting, and social networks used to help us maintain and grow relationships, they have now become a social crutch. By replacing real world interaction with virtually mitigated interactions she argues that the digital world is making us less social.
In my personal life checking emails, messages, and facebook notifications on my phone had become so common place that the physical act of reaching for my phone and unlocking the screen had morphed into a near subconscious ritual. I realized that if I could create some physical manifestation of my usage, I might be able recognize bad behaviors and self correct.
An application on your phone tracks your usage of “social” apps. When you use these apps, points are sent over bluetooth to the bracelet. As the points pile up the bracelet changes color from blue to red indicating heightened levels of use. Over time the point score decreases. If the person wearing the bracelet does not over use their phone the bracelet will remain blue or green.
The bracelet was designed using Rhino. I 3D printed both the band and main component housing. Using the hard plastic bracelet forms as a positive I cast a silicone mold which I used to produce the final urethane bracelets.
I used a Seeeduino Film flexible micro controller and bluetooth frame for their compact size and compressible form factor. I also used two ultra bright tricolor LEDs for the indicators and a small LiPo battery to power everything.
I wrote a simple service application for Android which would send points to the bracelet as usage increased. I also wrote an accompanying sketch for the microcontroller using Arduino which changed the color of the LED indicators as the number of points increased.