Lorenz Potthast

What can others learn from the successes and failures of the way you’ve bridged the digital and physical realms?: 

For me the most important and also most unexpected finding was that you don´t necessarily have to produce an actual product that works: Sometimes it is enough to design a concept, an idea or a hypothesis to make people reflect about their own behavior in their environment. The idea of the deceleration of your perception fulfills the dream of personalized, technically enhanced senses that expands the boundaries of our human body. Apparently the technique of the Decelerator extends the awareness of time and transforms the concept of perception in a constructed, artificial state. But it also explores the limits of the idea of a technically enhanced perception. What comes with the slowing down is obviously also a delay. You know what your body is doing and what impact this should have on your perception. You start waiting for the pictures to catch up, to follow you to the place you know you should be which will never happen. The knowledge about the discrepancy of your actual environment and what you perceive from it leads to a spiral of delay, waiting and disorientation. This effect of the helmet can possibly be compared to the effect of a pair of binoculars: Both tools enable you to enlarge a quality of your visual perception by using a technical aid to an unnatural level. But on the other hand if you look through it you can´t see what is immediately next to you anymore. The idea of my approach is not only concerning the slowing down of perception, but in general perception filtered through technology, decoupling you from reality. The concept illustrates how many surprising elements can be discovered during the process of realising an idea that seems naïve at a first glance.

What value for users did the way you bridged the physical with the digital add to the experience that couldn’t have otherwise been achieved?: 

The Decelerator Helmet works as a bridge between a digitalized perception and the physical environment and body of the user. The float of time as apparently invariant constant is broken and subjected under the user’s control. The idea to decouple the personal perception from the natural timing enables the user to become aware of his own relationship to time. The helmet works as a reflection-bubble to think about the flow of time in general and the relation between sensory perception, environment and corporality in particular.

What approaches and techniques did you employ during the design and prototyping of your experience that helped ensure user needs were well accounted for and the final experience was intuitive and usable despite perhaps being new and unfamiliar?: 

From the beginning on my work on the project was practically and experimental. I used a lot of prototypes as tool to reflect about the process and theoretical background of the idea. I tested the prototypes with a lot of different users at many places and surroundings. From these experiences I developed and enhanced several versions of the helmet, which were always self-referential to the realizations from previous states.

How might your experience serve as the inspiration or starting point for future valuable experiences, whether individually or as part of an ecosystem?: 

The Decelerator Helmet can be seen as a practical philosophizing about how technology will shape our perception in the future. It raises general questions concerning the blurring edges between digital and physical world. Digital technology enables us to do things we couldn´t do without but it also more and more delimits us from the physical reality. What comes with a technological filtered perception is also the possibility to personalize your perception as you (or someone else) wants it to be. The Decelerator unintentionally explored how far this personalization can go, before you are lost in your own personal reality. What happens when technology will enable us to perceive our environment just as we want to perceive it? And is this good or bad? These are the kind of questions and stimulation the Decelerator Helmet can contribute to the discussion how our future should be designed.