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Kairos

 
 

Kairos

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Role: Design Research, Sketch Ideation, 3D Modeling, Engineering, Fabrication

electronics, Programming, Film Direction & Video Editing

 

Finding flow

Kairos combines wearable technology and furniture design in order to create an experience that encourages people to seek out "flow" activities.  Coined by psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, flow experiences occur when people are engaged, motivated, and fully immersed in intense focus.

Kairos translates brain activity during states of intense concentration into a copper patina, serving as a record and catalyst leading to further interactions and behaviors.

Flow is a psychological state that occurs when one is completely absorbed in an activity with an energized focus that can enhance creativity and productivity. Kairos, referring to “a time when conditions are right for an accomplishment of crucial action,” becomes an environment where flow experiences can be visualized and evaluated. An EEG headset measures brain activity of the person sitting at the desk where high states of concentration trigger fluid to be pumped onto a copper surface forming a patina. A motor moves the pump nozzle horizontally along the desk taking one week to travel from one side to the other allowing multiple streaks of patina to form. Over time, the patina becomes more personalized to the user’s flow experiences, resulting in a visualization of his or her body of work shaping future interactions and behaviors.

 
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Design & Prototyping

In ancient Greek, there are two words that refer to the phenomenon of time: Chronos and Kairos.  While the quantitative Chronos refers to the passage of measured time, the qualitative Kairos refers the events that occur in opportune moments. 

I wanted to create an object that would assist users with entering these flow states and to turn this habit or ritual into an opportunity.  

This resulted in determining how objects can get better with time, a field of study known as Agathonics, which allows users to develop a relationship with something like a worn baseball glove or a well tuned tool.

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Electronics and Testing

Upon turning on the desk, an embedded Arduino microcontroller and realtime clock moves the pump nozzle to an point on the desk corresponding to the current day and time of the week and interfaces with the EEG headset via Bluetooth.  It then monitors brainwave data for high sustained concentration states and will pump a mixture of salt and vinegar from a waterproof flask from a peristaltic pump.  This liquid solution is harmless to the user but will cause the copper surface to form a discoloration.  The runoff then drips over an edge that is treated with a NeverWet hydrophobic surface and forced to drip into a waterproofed tray underneath where it can safely evaporate without harming the wood parts of the desk which were hand planed and joined with mortise and tenons. 

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FILMing

I wanted to capture the experience of using the Kairos desk and decided to film a short video to accompany the display of the desk during the Thesis show.  In the film, we show different actors doing a number of "flow" activities and show the culmination of the effect as multiple streaks of patina on the desk's copper plate.

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Presentation

The Kairos desk was selected to be represented in a public critique with noted architect and designer guests in a  storefront space on Wabash Ave. in Chicago.

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