Noticing that her motivation was greatly influenced by having others working around her, Ailun wanted to create a device to simulate the experience of not working alone.
WithU is a device-app pairing that helps encourage people to "keep working" by projecting a time-delayed live video image of them—"working"—on the wall in front of them. Designed by Ailun Sai, WithU grew out of a desire to increase her perseverance in completing her school work when working alone. Noticing that her motivation was greatly influenced by having others working around her, Ailun wanted to create a device to simulate this experience. The video feed that WithU projects acts as a kind of "mimic"—reminding you how hard you have been working and helping to build self-confidence.
Here's how the system works: First, the user opens the WithU App on her phone and begins a video recording. The phone is then placed in the base of the WithU projector. The app delays the signal by 5 seconds, and then the device then simply takes the feed from the phone's camera and projects it as a continuous video stream onto the wall in front of the user. Because of the 5 second delay, each time the user looks up from her work she sees an image of herself—head down, working hard. Motivated by this image of herself, she will be encouraged to keep working!
“‘When I work in public spaces, I look up and the sight of other people working hard motivates me. But when I’m alone, I often find it difficult to be productive.
I designed WithU as a way to be my own motivation instead of depending on others.”
The design of the projector doesn't rely on sophisticated electronics or mechanics; instead it uses fundamental optics to simply project the video image from the phone's screen on to the wall. (The device's "periscope form" has a sly suggestion of " being spied on"!) The app does the work of delaying video signal, so that the user always sees herself working hard—just as she was before she looked up. The app also incorporates a social network function, supporting the individual by connecting him/her to a community of people working together.
As a person who is easily influenced by the environment around her, Ailun enjoys the satirical way in which WithU motivates her. She has also considered the potential for this product to be used in other situations where people may want to become more aware of their behaviors. (For example, it could remind people staring at their phones while eating to be more mindful, and to enjoy their meal without digital mediation.) WithU offers immediate feedback, giving you a new perspective from which to see your behavior.
Learn more about Ailun Sai's work at ailunsai.com.