Google Seed Studio: Little Signals project

Google Seed Studio and Map Project Office designed this speculative project which explores new ways of engaging with technology. It is a Winner in the In-house Design category

These days our lives are filled with devices constantly chirruping with pop-ups, vibrations and messages. This barrage of notifications can be distracting, and so Little Signals was set up as an experimental design study to explore new, subtle ways of engaging with technology.

Designed in partnership with Google Seed Studio and Map Project Office, the speculative project homes in on six objects and has them use different sensorial cues – puffs of air, ambient sounds, or soft movements – in place of the usual notification bleeps. The idea is for these objects to keep us in the loop but in a gentle, calm way, moving from the background to the foreground as needed.

To visualise these techy thought starters, the team also oversaw the art direction of a film. Its biggest task was to demonstrate how easily ‘calm technology’ can co-exist with us. As the final models were still non-functioning prototypes, they were brought to life through stop-motion, shadows and sounds, rather than being animated digitally.

Inspired by existing everyday objects that use subtle ways to share information, such as the moving hands of a clock or the whistle of a kettle, Little Signals aims to build on this idea and explore how we might stay up to date with digital information while maintaining peaceful moments. It’s hoped the project will inspire the design industry to think more broadly about the unusual ways we can engage with objects and technology.

Google Seed Studio: Little Signals
Winner: In-house Design
Entrant: Map Project Office
Design Studio: Map Project Office
Lead Designer: Chris Weightman
Industrial Designers: Felicien Rousseau, Keenan Rush
Designers: Jenny Docherty, Laura Lebeau
Former Director: Alex Hulme
Senior Image Maker: Chris Tirrell
Director of Marketing & Communications: Dharine Surenthiran
Marketing Manager: Amy Panitnan
Communications Manager: Ellie Rains
Photographer: Taran Wilkhu
Head of Google Seed Studio: Philip Battin
Design Strategist at Google Seed Studio: Zoe Schladow
Design Prototyper at Google Seed Studio: Matthew Sibigtroth
Creative Producer at Google Seed Studio: Andrew House