Although many schools have returned to traditional face-to-face interactions, there are still some that utilize online classes. Even without these more recent changes in school systems around the world, there have always been times when students had to face their school work on their own, separated from classmates and friends. Of course, smartphones and computers make connecting with others remotely all too easy to the point that they become distractions instead. Striking a balance between focus and socialization in the age of the Internet can be a daunting prospect for both students and their parents; that’s why this rather curious touch screen device tries to perform that delicate dance by connecting students to one another without becoming a distraction.
Designers: Simay Tokus, Muhammet Uzuntas, Brenda Gallardo Flores
Self-study has long been encouraged by many education systems, but let’s face it, few students really enjoy and thrive in that environment. While they may be able to focus for some time, they eventually find themselves craving a connection with their classmates, especially when they come across a problem they can’t solve on their own. Smartphones and the Internet break down barriers and connect students to one another easily. Unfortunately, they also become a source of distraction, even when the screen is turned off.
Summy is a dedicated device designed to keep students connected while still setting up limits to how many interruptions they can do. At its most basic, the device is a voice messenger, a timer, a daily planner, and a sort of social network among friends, most likely students in the same class or level. The idea is that you only get to send short voice messages to those in your circle, at least only when they’re available.
The device uses a UI made of concentric circles and icons represented by old-school monochrome 8-bit characters. Tapping on a friend’s icon allows you to send a voice message, which is more limited and less disruptive than a voice call. You can view other friends’ daily schedules, and if they’re free, you can send a “Study with Me” request so that both of you can set a synchronized timer to study for the same time period.
Summy creates a rather playful atmosphere around the concept of studying together, even remotely, making it easier for students, especially younger ones, to adjust to the system that might remind them of mobile games that have short bursts of activity and communication only. The spherical shape of the device reinforces that playful character, especially with how the screen flips over to turn off the device. Of course, this only works if the student has a number of friends willing to play the same “game,” but Summy can also be a fun gadget to keep tabs on their own time and maybe have a retro display on their desk to keep them entertained.