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March 12, 2018

Panasonic designed blinkers for the digital age

by John_A

There could be a whole category of recent devices labeled “technology to keep you from being distracted by technology.” From “dumb phones” to revivals of Ektachrome film, the same companies that contribute to our digital exhaustion are trying to provide the answer with… more tech.

Enter Wear Space, a prototype we spotted at Panasonic’s SXSW exhibition. A collaboration with Japanese fashion designer Kunihiko Morinaga, it embeds noise-cancelling headphones in what’s basically a glorified horse blinker. The idea is to keep you focused when working in open spaces like coffee shops or communal co-working spots.

Yes it looks sleek, and yes, it’s a positive development that product designers are becoming more mindful of our collective concentration deficit. But perhaps it also highlights how badly we need better solutions — whether in ethical software design, regulation or individual habits. There must be more dignified ways to sharpen our attention than a human pet cone, no matter how fashionably it’s designed.

Catch up on the latest news from SXSW 2018 right here.

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