An MIT Media Lab team has developed a series of wallets that physically react when you electronically spend.
The wallets communicate with your bank via a bluetooth connection to your smartphone and come in three variants. The “Mother Bear” has a hinge that gets harder to open as your balance dwindles. The “Bumblebee” vibrates every time a transaction gets processed, with one vibration for debits, another for credits. And the “Peacock” swells and shrinks along with your account balance.
“An unusually high balance results in a wallet large enough to be visible to potential mates,” write the researchers.
Part of the reason some consumers get sucked into credit card debt is that the plastic is too abstract. Anything that increases the distance between your labor and what it earns you is going to make it harder to be frugal. That’s why arcades give you tokens and casinos give you chips.
In a world of credit card swipes, electronic transactions, and “Tap N Go” charging, a project like this makes purchasing once again corporeal. So maybe you’ll feel the pain of spending a bit more acutely, make wiser buying decisions, and think twice before making a harmful splurge.
Proverbial Wallet: Tangible Interface for Financial Awareness (PDF) [eco.media.mit.edu/static/proverbialwallets]
Smart Wallets React to Electronic Spending by Refusing to Open [Ecouterre] (Thanks to Bec!)