-Gamiefied Smartphone Abstinence-

#1

Dear Humanetech followers

Smagotcha is the name for my project that moves somewhere between the two topics of „digital detox“ and „gamified mindfulness“.

I work on a solution to bring about the next level of meditation apps. I believe that mindfulness is not just there to sit down and meditate but equally an opportunity to deal with one’s smartphone consciously:

The Smartphone App Smagotcha supports its users to understand their own interactions with their environment. For this purpose a cute but disciplined creature made of light matures inside the app and changes its brightness over time. It brings the users thoughts, feelings and sensations into the here and now. In order to accomplish this it evolves its appearance and character continuously – entirely individually and as long as the smartphone is used. Beware though, it is threatened to atrophy when old habits resurface. When its luminosity is fully developed, the users will glide into the next phase. There they will be awaited by new secrets in order to let their creature live even more individually.

We believe that humans intrinsical drive to be playful should not be overlooked. Instead it should be promoted within flexible limits to create the user’s natural drive to experience himself/ herself and ones surroundings mindfully.

The reason why I am reaching out to the Humanetech community is because our project is making too slow a progress which is why I am asking for your help:

Our team now consists of 5 people. We are all students. I am responsible for the project, the concept and the sound design. The designer works on the creature and the app design. At the moment I and a designer work very hard every day. This project will also be the topic of my bachelor thesis next year.
Furthermore a webpage developer is involved and two programmers have just started to work with us. The latter three don’t identify with the project strongly and do their own projects parallel to Smagotcha.

I am getting frustrated with this situation. Our project should be much further already. Instead a lot of things revolve around the concept and the designs although an MVP has long been finalized. For sure this is as well important but we proceeded so far with it that an actual prototype needs to be coded now so that we can do our first usability tests.

I have spent a tremendous amount of time looking for a coder who is able to work with me face to face. The project needs a smart man or woman who is able to code at least 1-2 full days a week. Instead coders have cancelled their work once they realized the volume of this project. Right now our coder is able to work on this 5 hours a week. Another coder is already waiting to begin her coding at the end of May. But 5 hours is not enough and I simply cannot wait any longer. My agreement to work with them came out of a helpless need. So far I learnt that it is hard to find programmers with enough time and expertise.

My project’s dead line is November 2019. Until then I need to deliver at least a prototype. For a product that aims at its actual use, (that is to offer a solution for mindful smartphone behaviour), we need a serious team mate who is willing to sacrifice at least a few months without getting paid. It would be best if the one is from Germany and lives close to Düsseldorf but it would be also possible to work via skype if this someone lives farther away or abroad.

If we want to present a solution to potential sponsors then at least a prototype must be built. There were two major inquiries for support that I made recently:

First: I contacted the German health insurance companies in order to be financially funded. They would have liked to support Smagotcha but unfortunately there are legal funding restrictions which makes it hard. What makes it impossible though is that there is no prototype yet to present. I learnt that such companies then lose their interest.

Second: The German Start Up fair is held in Düsseldorf once a year. Last week I was invited to their start up pitch with potential investors and an audience. The pitch went really well but since the project is still in its starting period with no actual prototype the investors were not keen to finance it. Instead there were presentations of further progressed projects. These projects consisted of teams that not only worked together closely but were well organized. Again, a prototype would have been of great help here.

I mainly looked for financial support to be able to buy a coder that so far I could not find. But I am sure with someone who is willing to spend the same amount of time like me into the project we would be able to do so without such funding attempts.

I am offering a solution with a potential social impact. I feel sure about a successful outcome because we are connecting a reward system to limiting down one’s smartphone consumption. Those rewards consist of an ever evolving creature that consistently changes depending on certain aspects of the game. On the other hand we are still in the middle of the mindfulness trend. This trend may not be in peoples minds anymore one day but what will never cease is our innermost curiosity for games. So as long as the game contents develop they will stay interesting.

I am not able yet to reveal the whole concept but please reach out to me if the project idea touched your heart. If you want to support us with your professional coding skills let me know. If it is something else you want to let me know please go ahead. If you think this project is bullshit let me know.

I will welcome any suggestions and contributions. I am reaching out to you because I hope that Humanetech gathers those people who can identify with projects like this.

Christoph Beck

3 Likes
Any developers or entrepreneurs here?
#3

Hi Christoph,

I like the idea of the inner creature changing colors and brightness over time, depending on how we let it thrive and grow doing things aligned with our happiness and mindfulness. But I see it more as an art concept or exhibition than a usable app. I’m always skeptic about using your smartphone to change your habits about the use of your smartphone. It’s kind of a vicious circle, I’d rather forget about my smartphone doing things that are completely unrelated to it. Otherwise my attention and even subconscious thinking would go always inevitably to that object, with all the powerful and attractive stimuli that comes from it.

#4

Thank you so much for your reply Michleminho! :slight_smile:

I understand that subconsciously people could possibly think of the object of the smartphone app (which is the creature). But do you know where your subconscious thinking always goes? Are you 100% sure that your thoughts are usually unrelated to your smartphone?

I see the smartphone out there as something very positive. I believe we should not demonize the smartphone as an evil something but use its potential for a better life. I believe we should look at our own traits instead and ultimately recognize that addiction might not be in any object but in ourselves.

Given this, I personally would love an object/ creature that represents my attention. I would love to play with such a cute thing and see it grow and change according to my meditation exercises.

I have been doing meditation practice for over a decade and clearly see the benefits of it. As more and more poeple are starting to understand what meditation is about I believe that an actual creature would make the whole practise of meditation even more interesting.

I like the idea of the inner creature changing colors and brightness over time, depending on how we let it thrive and grow doing things aligned with our happiness and mindfulness.

To be a little clearer: The creature changes its appearance, its sounds and its interaction depending on the attention of the user. Not just the colors and brightness. The brightness is just there to illuminate the appearance. So if it turns dark the creature will be invisible.

Have a nice day :slight_smile:
Christoph

1 Like
#5

I’m not daemonizing the smartphone me neither, I just think that we should unload ‘life functions’ from it, more than adding new ones. Our smartphone is already implied in almost every action or activity in our daily life. And this tendency will grow and it will involve new wearable devices, so that our behavioral data can grow richer and richer and be harvested in new fields. We need to embrace some form of digital minimalism, as many of us are already trying to do with consumerism. So even apps with a good aim like yours could end up adding reasons and contexts in which we want to check our smartphones to see our ‘score’, whatever its nature and form. And to be dependent from it, like in any game, where we obviously want to perform better and better.

In your specific case, if I want to meditate, this intention should not follow the same pattern of addictive apps: it should not be ‘gamified’, but instead it should stand as a practice to be present here and now without any expectation of external rewards.

#6

Thank you Michelangelo. You helped me to see things better.