Panasonic designed blinders for the digital age

There must be better ways to concentrate.

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    There could be a whole category of recent devices labeled "technology to keep you from being distracted by technology." From "dumb phones" to revivals of Ektachrome film, the same companies that contribute to our digital exhaustion are trying to provide the answer with ... more tech.

    Enter Wear Space, a prototype we spotted at Panasonic's SXSW exhibition. A collaboration with Japanese fashion designer Kunihiko Morinaga, it embeds noise-cancelling headphones in what's basically a glorified horse blinder. The idea is to keep you focused when working in open spaces like coffee shops or communal co-working spots.

    Yes, it looks sleek, and yes, it's a positive development that product designers are becoming more mindful of our collective concentration deficit. But perhaps it also highlights how badly we need better solutions -- whether in ethical software design, regulation or individual habits. There must be more dignified ways to sharpen our attention than a human pet cone, no matter how fashionably it's designed.

    Catch up on the latest news from SXSW 2018 right here.

    Chris is associate features editor at Engadget. He writes about how technology is shaping culture, society and the everyday human experience. Raised in the UK and Hong Kong, he has worked for the Columbia Journalism Review, Reuters, and the South China Morning Post.

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