A set of tech prototypes, including a lamp that shuts off notifications during conversation, are designed to enlighten your life instead of disrupting it

Designer Skylar Jessen, a graduate student in the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU, created a set of technology to help you live a more connected, realized life—from a lamp that discourages interrupted conversations, to a messenger app that can convey emotions, to maps designed to help you explore. The project, Decompressed Design, is intended to counter technology's disruptive ways.

“Our devices are inserting themselves into our moments all of the time,” Jessen told Fast Company’Co.Design. Jessen hopes to change that. For instance, his lamp—currently a prototype—picks up on human conversation and disables digital notifications after the dialogue has been ongoing for 30 seconds (notifications are re-enabled if the conversation halts for two minutes or longer). But a more ambitious version could detect stronger connections, such as when two people begin to mirror each other in gesture and voice levels, signaling a more involved conversation.

Jessen's messaging app seeks to mimic real life conversations, blurring older messages and preventing you from switching to other apps mid-conversation. The app also conveys emotions: using open-source facial recognition software, the app categorizes the speaker into one of the six primary emotions and alters the background of the text to reflect it.

And while Google Maps is great for navigation, Jessen imagines a mapping app that will allow for “surprise” and “inspiration” as well as “efficiency.” The app would give you different routes depending on your choice to be efficient, inspired or surprised—the latter of which lets you wander until you get to your intended destination.

The mapping app is still a concept, since it would require substantial amounts of data to function, but Jessen is interested in challenging the way we use and design technology. “We’re never going to stop text messaging or using Google Maps,” he said in the interview. “But how do we take them and bring back more of the nuance of us?”

Decompressed Design

Designer Skylar Jessen, a graduate student in the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU, created a set of technology to help you live a more connected, realized life—from a lamp that discourages interrupted conversations, to a messenger app that can convey emotions, to maps designed to help you explore. The project, Decompressed Design, is intended to counter technology's disruptive ways.

“Our devices are inserting themselves into our moments all of the time,” Jessen told Fast Company’s Co.Design. Jessen hopes to change that. For instance, his lamp—currently a prototype—picks up on human conversation and disables digital notifications after the dialogue has been ongoing for 30 seconds (notifications are re-enabled if the conversation halts for two minutes or longer). But a more ambitious version could detect stronger connections, such as when two people begin to mirror each other in gesture and voice levels, signaling a more involved conversation.