Betsu/Setsu is a family of small desktop objects that provide a humanistic connection through subtle interaction. The project was completed as my Senior Thesis project at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.
Each of the five items in the collection accomplishes a task that could also be done with a computer, but it presents this task by itself and in a more relatable, humanistic and seemingly analog way.
WINK is a small totem that sits with you on your desk while you work. It remains static and calm until someone wants to let you know that they're thinking about you. When that person sends an SMS message containing #wink to your WINK device, its built in feather shakes subtly for a moment, letting you know that you are loved.
ALERT is a desktop reminder that can be assigned by the user to remind or alert them of any item or event. When the alarm or reminder goes off, ALERT raises itself up, allowing the speaker on its underside to project a gentle sound. To silence the device, the user must gently push ALERT back down to its resting position.
HELP is a handheld device that pairs with your mobile phone and accepts voice commands to keep you from being distracted throughout the day by menus or lifeless screens. Its built in accelerometer activates the device when picked up from a resting position and is immediately ready to accept a voice command. When HELP is resting on a surface, however, it remains off.
SEE is a handheld device aimed at making video chatting more humanistic and less cluttered. It allows the user to hold in their hand their loved ones as they chat with them. SEE, like many of the items in the Betsu/Setsu family, is made of wood, giving the device a wamer, more "real" feel.
DELIVER is a small printer whose sole purpose is to print the user's SMS messages as they are received. Ones phone can be anywhere within range of the device, and as soon as an SMS text is received, it is quietly printed on a slip of paper sized similar to that of a fortune cookie. DELIVER brings an uncluttered and poetic feel to the desktop and to a task that is often messy and utilitarian.
Betsu/Setsu followed a very atypical process for an Industrial Design project. At the outset of the exploration, final direction and function were unknown. The general scope was defined by looking at the way that we interact over surfaces of varying types; with individuals as well as with the tasks we are accomplishing and devices we are using.
Sketch development was conducted alongside 3D form exploration, and in some cases was even guided by findings and things which stood out when prototyping small objects.
As explorations became more refined and function began to come into effect, ideation shifted towards guided play and user conversation. Users were asked to look at the objects and explore, without restriction, what they imagined these objects doing.
The final step was to create final appearance models for the 5 devices chosen to be included in the final collection.
Betsu/Setsu was included as part of the 2012 Senior Exhbition at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. For the exhbition space, great care was taken to create a minimal, tranquil escape conducive to discussion and dialogue. Betsu/Setsu was enthusiastically received and dialogue was initiated amongst the thousands of patrons present at the show opening.