What Big Tech is doing about Slow Tech
In 2018, Apple introduced us to Screen Time7 as part of its iOS 12 update. Screen Time monitors iPhone usage, serving customers easy to digest real-time reports. On the surface it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but the update also allows users to set app limits and create downtime periods that block certain functions on the device from bothering you. In short, one of the most valuable companies in the world8 is trying to get its customers to use the most profitable product ever produced9 slightly less.
On the smaller end of town, we have Dispo. It’s a camera and photo sharing app that mimics the function of a disposable camera. The interface is designed so you have to squint to see through the tiny view finder. You can’t access the images until they’re developed (they’re unlocked at 9am the next day). The resulting images are very lo-fi, highly saturated and due to the squinty viewfinder, the framing and focus is a little off. The shots look like they’re from the early 90’s but are cherished that much more because you have to wait until they’re ready for you. It’s nostalgic. It’s fun. And in this fast-paced want-everything-now world, it’s extremely slow. But that’s the point.
Designers are also are coming up with ways to reduce the tech in our everyday lives – not just in the digital space. Consider the beautiful street lanterns10 in the video below that respond to pedestrians by bending towards them like a blooming flower. As a response to light pollution, their warm glow lights only what is necessary before returning to their darkened state once the pedestrian moves away.