With companies like Square and Slack announcing that they plan on going remote in the future, working from home will become more prominent. Without a physical workspace, Current enables the benefit of being able to get a feel for the "room" and motivation to work while still keeping the private barrier of being at home.
Materials: Paper, Cedar, Biscuits
Tools: Blender, Solidworks, Keyshot, Biscuit Joiner
*Ribbons are sped up for visual clarity
Interaction Design
Each ribbon is a coworker, and the amount of wave symbolizes how much they are working. However it's important to note that each ribbon is nameless and will change every day. The goal is to simulate the working environment rather than to spy on who's working and who's not. The amount of "work" is measured unobtrusively. Sensors take in sounds that one would hear if they were in an office – keyboard clacking, pencil scratches, etc. and translates that into live waves over slow 15 minute increments.

Visual Design
The length of this device due to the fact that it is meant to sit behind your workspace and thus work in your peripherals – just like in a real workspace. Each ribbon is a different size to give visual variety. Not only does this stimulate creativity, it also emulates a real work environment (not everyone is visually the same size due to perspective). The ribbons also give a calming effect which helps a stressful environment.
How the Waves Work
The Ribbon
The ribbons would have a non ferrous wire mesh inside that allows them to be pushed by the electromagnets. The ribbons are encased in a soft matte elastomer, allowing them to be flexible but still hold shape. A row of electromagnets would turn on an off in turn pushing the ribbon along, creating a wave.
My desire to create a wave effect led me to discover electromagnets. I was first inspired by the simplicity of moving parts of the ferrofluid clock by Rhei (an array of electromagnets). Coming across this video on how nonferrous metals can be repelled from electromagnets, further put the pieces in place
Key Insight:
Interviewees reported enjoying doing work at cafés because seeing people around them working gives them the nudge to do the same. This differs from working in an office since everyone's a stranger – everyone's minding their own business. The calming, not work-like environment also brings down the edge of working.
The Approaches: a quick overview of the approaches explored based on research
Approach #1: Immersive Environment
I began by researching technology that currently exists for immersive environments. I aimed to avoid VR/AR experiences since I didn’t want users to be overly immersed, since it may cause a work-life imbalance. I explored projections to having it only powered by solar panels, making one unable to work at night. Though the ideas were interesting, ultimately I felt that the experience lacked something real.
Approach #2: Desk Companion
In contrast to the first approach, I wanted to lean more towards a physical and personal presense/reaction to your work. What I found was that it was too contained and could be easily be ignored/just add clutter to the workspace.
Approach #3: Environment with Others
As I was struggling for a direction, I learned about Focusmate. This closely aligned with what I found in my research, where most found motivation to work in an environment where others are working and minding their own business. However, this is requires your camera to be on and is with one person. I wanted to create a more holistic view of a workspace and a more “private” representation of someone working without losing the sense that “you should work since someone’s watching you.”
Fabrication: Form Model
Left: basing the length of the frame to my typical workspace     Right: creating the waves of the prototype
Final Model

You may also like

Back to Top