There’s nothing dystopian at all about these high-tech blinkers for humansOctober 17, 2018
Ever feel like you’re having too much fun in the office? Like your boss just isn’t getting enough value out of your life? Fear not: Panasonic has designed a pair of high-tech blinkers that block out your peripheral vision to help you concentrate on the job at hand.
The concept is called Wear Space, which consists of a lightweight, wraparound fabric screen that conceals a pair of Bluetooth headphones. The screen cuts your horizontal field of view by around 60 percent, while the headphones come with a built-in noise-canceling feature that can pipe in music of your choice. It charges over USB and has a battery life of 20 hours.
The Wear Space isn’t an official Panasonic product (yet), but a prototype was developed by the company’s Future of Life design studio. An early version was shown at SXSW earlier this year, but the creators of the Wear Space are now raising money for the device on Japanese crowdfunding site GreenFunding.
According to the crowdfunding site, Wear Space is supposed to create a “psychological personal space” for the wearer to help them concentrate, particularly in noisy, distracting, open-plan offices. The device isn’t intended to just isolate the wearer but also communicate with others, telling them: Go away, I’m busy.
“When someone is wearing the Wear Space, you can clearly see that the wearer wants to focus. We think this is quite important,” Kang Hwayoung, a member of the team that designed the product, told the Japan Times. Kang noted that although open-plan offices have become more popular, “everyone sometimes wants to be alone and concentrate.”
The Wear Space certainly has a dystopian vibe. It looks like a high-tech version of the “wings” (or bonnets) worn by characters in the TV adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale. In the book, these are designed to hide the wearer from view but also limit their ability to perceive their surroundings, smothering any feelings of independence or freedom.
Panasonic reportedly hopes to raise ¥15 million (around $133,000) for the Wear Space through crowdfunding, and each unit will cost around $250. And who knows, in a culture that prizes productivity above pretty much everything else, the Wear Space doesn’t have zero chance of catching on. If it does become common, at least we won’t have to suffer the embarrassment of looking each other in the eye. We’ll have our blinkers on.