Every night it’s the same routine. Fish around for the Lightning cable. Open the Clock app and turn on the alarm. Going to bed with an iPhone is neither mindless nor elegant, yet, most of us fuss with this same task on a nightly basis.
The design consultancy Teague has a different idea. Developed inside its Labs division, this iPhone dock is a brilliant alternative to the bedtime phone logistics of today. It’s essentially a ridged shelf. You set down your phone, and conductive charging will power it back up overnight. (That idea isn’t so far-fetched, by the way.) Meanwhile, to set the alarm, rather than open an app and tap through the interface, all you do is slide your phone across the dock. On screen, the alarm’s time changes accordingly, while the daylight animates in and out of frame to represent where the sun will be when you wake.
"This is an example of our belief in the critical role of physical interactions to surface intangible features of connected products," Teague explains on their site.
And in fact, your bedside is only one place this dock could work. Teague proposes that these iPhone docks could exist around your home, from the office to your kitchen. They could act as mini hubs to your smart home, triggering a room to activate to your needs. One could imagine setting your phone down next to the cutting board to project a recipe on the wall, or placing a phone on a desk to unlock your computer. Since we’re constantly in search of a wall outlet, why not turn the act of charging our phones into a way to authenticate our presence and respond to our needs?
It’s a clever proposal, built on top of another enticing Teague Labs concept called Tap to Tweak. In Tap to Tweak, the team built a smart lamp that could glow in a wide array of different colors. Usually, this sort of smart home stuff, as with the Philips Hue, requires you to open an app and change the color. This takes time—and when scaled across an entire home, opening a different app for each thing you want to manipulate gets impractical quickly.
Instead, with Teague's Tap to Tweak, you tap your phone to the object and embedded NFC (the same technology that fuels Apple Pay) connects to a deep link within an app. As a result, you could tap the lamp with your phone and instantly see a color gradient on the screen. Or you could tap a coffee maker to change the water temperature or grind. Why doesn’t Apple’s HomeKit work like this?
To be honest, these Labs concepts are so good that it almost makes us sad that Teague has focused 100% of its efforts on the travel industry, while backing away from the world of industrial design. Then again, now that the ideas are out there, there’s nothing stopping the Apples, Googles, and Samsungs of the world from ripping them off. Please, please, rip them off.