Little Signals: Is Google revolutionizing smart home interaction?
Little Signals could spell the end for annoying notifications. How will Google replace vibrations, rings and beeps?
Little Signals could mean the end for annoying notifications. How does Google plan to replace vibrations, rings and beeps?
Vibrations, rings, messages appearing on umpteen different screens – smart tech users are constantly bombarded with various notifications. According to experts, these non-stop alerts can cause stress and put a strain on the psyche.
Google wants to counteract the constant alerts with a series of new ideas and change the way connected devices communicate with us.
Natural ambient sounds to reduce notification stress
Smartphones, smart speakers like Google Nest Audio or wearables take up space in our everyday lives and provoke interactions. With the design study “Little Signals”, Google presents six smart devices, each of which uses an entirely new form of notification.
Technology moves into the background and only makes an appearance when it is really necessary. The Little Signals are designed to draw attention to news on the smartphone or smart display while preserving moments of calm.
Instead of conventional alarm signals, the somewhat different smart tech draws attention to itself with gentle air currents, natural ambient sounds or quiet movements. The design is unobtrusive with its simple shapes and is intended to integrate seamlessly into the home decor.
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Air currents and pulsating shadows replace beeps and rings
The six prototypes are modeled on familiar elements from everyday life, such as the wandering hands of a clock or the whistle of a tea kettle.
- The prototype Little Signals Tap gently taps the surface it is standing on with its rotating arm. For urgent notifications, it intensifies the tapping. Instead of a shrill notification from Google Assistant, the gentle tap on a glass bottle reminds us of the end of a timer.
- The Little Signals Button slowly grows. The more information it receives, the larger it becomes.
- The prototype Air sends out air currents and sets the leaves of a plant in motion, for example, to indicate that an appointment is coming up.
- The Shadow prototype uses its shadow to notify incoming emails. When a new notification appears on the smartphone, it expands and contracts again. The shadow pulsates.
Little Signals to build yourself: Google gives away building plans
So far, Little Signals is just a concept, a thought-provoking idea for future developments. There is no indication that the devices will ever go on sale.
Google offers downloadable instructions for hobbyists on the Little Signals website. Just scroll down and click on the “explore” button under “Meet the objects”. A download link is included with each device description.
This allows you to recreate the “Air” model at home with simple tools. The code you need to turn Air into a smart weather station is also included. The homemade Little Signal regularly retrieves the weather report via the Wi-Fi network and activates the fan when it might start raining, for example.