Email has become somewhat of a necessary evil lately, with a attempts like Google’s recent Inbox to use software to corral the over-abundance of the technology into something that makes better sense for us humans.
Designer Brendan Dawes worked with email marketing provider Mailchimp to come up with these fascinating single-use gadgets that bring email into the real world. Nim, the gadget named for a famous chimp in linguistics, is a light switch that lets you turn your email off. And on again, assumedly.
“Email is an interface we’ve been using for years,” Dawes told Wired, “so why not leverage its power some more?”
Dawes has several other gadgets he’s designed in concept. Each one tries to make the digital real and interactive. Some are more successful than others, of course, but they’re all fascinating.
Lucy, named for another famous chimpanzee, is a light-up connected gadget that could function as a sort of “email API,” lighting up in various colors based on the email sent to it. Imagine it lighting up red when your home alarm is triggered to send you a specific email, or lighting up green when your spouse arrives home. All it would need is a little IFTTT magic to work.
Sarah, on the other hand, is a little silly, but it’s made from some cool stuff — muscle wire that changes shape when an electrical current is applied. This allows Sarah to be super polite, just waiting for a specific email (maybe from a loved one) to trigger its one and only function, to raise a hand-written card for your attention.
Dawes says that Sarah’s silence “lends to it being an object filled with enchantment. It sits in the background waiting for you to notice it.”