Humans, especially the latter generations, seem to be terrible at self-control. Modern culture and technologies have made impulse decisions even worse, thanks to encouraging instant gratification. Although not entirely impossible, it has become more difficult to build good habits when the world seems to be designed to work against you. Fortunately, those very same psychological tricks used to trick your mind into a rabbit hole of procrastination can also be used to help build up your self-control. Rather than punishing people for failing, this toy-like gadget encourages good behavior by rewarding the person in easy, quick, and bite-sized chunks, almost like earning a coin for a small good deed that can then go into buying candy or, in this case, playing your console or watching TV.
Designer: Seokoo Yeo for Samsung Design Membership
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With instant gratification, you immediately receive a reward for doing very little work, a behavior that gets our minds almost addicted to the happiness that the reward brings, regardless of its long-term impact. Although mostly associated with bad habits, this kind of impulsive reward system can also be used to build good behavior using the same addictive methods, giving people small rewards more frequently with less effort until the good habit becomes second nature. Willet, which is a portmanteau of “will” and “wallet,” is a device that utilizes that psychological strategy to help people build self-control in utilizing their leisure time more wisely.
The concept for the device revolves around an orange coin-like piece that has an LED display on its surface that indicates how much “leisure time” you have saved up. This “Cookie” is charged on a different device that’s basically like a time tracker. The idea is to let the Cookie sit on the lamp-like Charger while you work, filling it up with minutes you can later use to run your leisure devices, such as a console, a TV, or even a radio. Take the Cookie too soon, and you won’t have as much time to use up compared to when you let it sit there until it’s full.
This Cookie can later be placed on a Pusher that, as its name implies, pushes a button to turn on a device. In this scenario, the Cookie acts like a timer that counts down until its earned time is all used up. Once that happens, the Pusher activates again, this time turning the attached device off until a refueled Cookie is attached again. The idea is to let the Cookie coin earn time while doing some other work and then use that time for a limited period of leisure.
Willet is a creative solution to the problem of self-control, one that uses the same impulsive reward system to do good rather than harm. While the design of the product itself also turns the system into a fun game, it does have some shortcomings in implementation. The Pusher, for example, relies heavily on devices and appliances that have a physical button to turn it on or off, and it doesn’t take into account devices like smartphones and tablets. Admittedly, that can be solved by locking those devices inside some storage that requires a push of a button to unlock.