Yoro was the result of a joint student project in which we wanted to disrupt the increasingly symbiotic relationship we have with the digital screens in our lives and foster attachment to other activities we enjoy instead.
Research shows that the light emitted from electronic screens keeps us awake and contributes to sleep problems. Exposure to screen light before bed can lead to less REM sleep, which also increases our risk of a range of health problems.
During our research, we discovered that people really want to be able to put their phones away before sleep and do other activities they value, like reading, but struggle to find the self motivation and control to do so. We therefore wanted to find out if there was a way of using the importance of the phone itself as a trigger to foster more healthy pre-sleep activities.
Yoro challenges your relationship with your phone by giving your usual interactions with it a different meaning. It is a re-imagined lamp and charging device, which invites you to put your phone to ‘bed’ in exchange for reading a book.
Yoro only switches on as a reading light when you place the phone on to charge. The energy and focus you have dedicated to your phone during the day is now shifted into Yoro. This transfer of focus is expressed through sound and light. Using that transfer, Yoro then suggests you take the book away and when you remove it, the light brightens for you to read. Yoro dims when it is placed back. In this way, the phone and the book are an integral part of the interface through which Yoro functions.
Our research also showed that people were reluctant to have something that tells them to put their phone away. It was therefore important for us to develop a device that would not act as a ‘reverse alarm’ but more as a supportive presence and unobtrusive friend that encourages you to put your phone away but does not order you to.
We did not want to fight the importance the phone now has in our lives, but acknowledge it and make it part of the process of fostering self-control, healthier habits and reducing screen time before bed. The act of putting your phone to charge by putting it to ‘bed’ on the soft charging dock acknowledges its importance but also helps you engage with something else. The act of exchanging it for a book highlights the time it takes from other meaningful activities and fosters your confidence and self-motivation to invest time in them instead.