In an attempt to explore how people relate to modern accessories such as smartphones and smartwatches, researchers recently created a smartwatch with living things.
Devices such as smartphones, smartwatches, and laptops have become part of our daily lives, and scientific experiments show that many people do not feel they can function properly without them. But as a result of consumer culture, most of us have no problem ditching our gadgets as soon as we can afford to buy new, more advanced gadgets, even if we don’t really need them. But what if there was a way to feel more attached to these gadgets, would we have to think twice before replacing them? So, scientists at the University of Chicago have created a unique type of smartwatch that only works if the organisms inside it stay alive.
The Tamagotchi was an egg-shaped device that allowed users to care for their digital pets by feeding, training, and training them. Without enough attention, the pet will die and the player will have to start over. Very popular in the 1990’s and his early 2000’s and still available today. This toy was the first inspiration for a unique smartwatch that replaced a digital pet with a living slime mold.
Photo: University of Chicago
The idea for this project was to build a smartwatch around slime molds, which are electrically conductive single-celled organisms. The user must maintain the mold for the watch to work properly. If the mold dies, the device will stop working.
Jasmine Lu and Pedro Lopes are the two University of Chicago scientists behind this intriguing smartwatch, and we want to see if bringing tech gadgets to life in the literal sense changes our relationship with them. I was thinking. They created an enclosure attached to the smartwatch and placed a type of slime mold known as a slime mold. Fissalum Polycephalum in it. To enjoy one of her key features of the accessory, heart rate monitoring, you need to keep the mold alive by feeding and caring for it.
This is exactly how it works – the slime mold is placed on one side of the enclosure and, when fed with a mixture of water and oats, grows on the other side of the enclosure, forming an electrical circuit that activates the heart rate monitoring feature. If the mold is left unattended, it will go dormant and cut off the circuit.
Photo: University of Chicago
Interestingly, users can forget about pet slime molds for days, months, or even years. However, scientists believe that simply knowing that there are living, dormant organisms out there can affect people’s relationships with their gadgets. I wanted to know if I would give
“A lot of research on human-computer interaction is about making things easier and faster,” says Lopes. But Jasmine thought there should be more friction. I have to take care and feed them every day just to reflect. So it’s like half a work of art and half a research paper. ”
After testing the gadget, the scientists decided to run a small experiment, giving five people five slime mold-powered smartwatches for two weeks. The participant was asked to feed the mold during her first week until it was sufficiently mature to activate heart monitoring, and then for the second week until the mold dried out. was asked to stop During the experiment, they were asked to write down their impressions of the gadget and answer some questions.
As a result, people become so attached to their smartwatches that some even give them names and feed them to others when they can’t. At stages, participants expressed guilt and even sadness as they watched their slime mold disappear.
We’ll probably never see a commercial version of this slime mold-powered smartwatch, but that wasn’t the idea for this intriguing experiment. I just wanted to inspire gadget designers to create devices that inspire attachment and mutual benefit, rather than generic tools intended solely for consumption.