NEW YORK (MainStreet) – With credit cards enabling many Americans to accrue massive amounts of debt and several companies aiming to bring mobile phone payments to the masses, it’s easier than ever to overspend these days. Now, one group of designers and engineers is trying to make that more difficult.
A group at the MIT Media Lab, led by designer John Kestner, has developed three high-tech wallets intended to help users track expenses and keep spending under control. Dubbed “The Proverbial Wallet,” the project adds a physical dimension to an increasingly virtual process through a wireless connection to your bank account.
First there’s the “Peacock,” which inflates or deflates based on how much money is in the linked account. So called because “your assets will be on display to attract potential mates,” the wallet gets fatter when you have more money – just like it used to be when people actually used cash.
Second, there’s the “Bumblebee,” which vibrates every time your bank processes a transaction, thereby encouraging “a conscious connection between handing over your credit card and your hard-earned money being harvested from the bank.” The vibrations are more intense for bigger withdrawals – think of it as shock therapy to wean you off your spending addiction.
And finally there’s the “Mother Bear,” which contains a hinge that makes it increasingly difficult to open the wallet as you approach your budget limit. Don’t worry about being locked out of your wallet in an emergency, though. “People won’t use a product that won’t let you do something,” says Kestner. “At full strength you can feel it fighting, but it’s still possible to open it.”