In their 1996 paper The Coming Age of Calm Technology, Mark Weiser and John Seely Brown predicted an age of ubiquitous computing. In this new age, they stressed, the design concepts of center and periphery would become increasingly relevant, to prevent the cognitive stress of information overload.
If computers are everywhere, they better stay out of the way.John Seeley Brown & Mark Weiser The Coming Age of Calm Technology 1996
Mobile computing has, so far, not kept "out the of the way." On the contrary; our phones, laptops, and wearables seem to demand our constant focus and attention. From a UI design perspective, this can be attributed in part to the lack of center and periphery on screen-based platforms. The screen behaves universally as a center – never as periphery. A screen displays information and images to be viewed actively, and has no regard for the larger visual context.
Wearable augmented reality allows the notion of center and periphery to again emerge as powerful design tools to allow for encalming technologies. Garden explores this notion of peripheral, ambient computing. Built for wearable augmented reality glasses, Garden allows the user to place digital 3D vegetation around their physical environment.
The appearance of these digital plants is dynamic. On some days, plants may be flowering vibrantly; on others, they may be withered and dry. The information driving the "health" of these plants can be linked to any number of data sources through RESTful APIs.
A simple Garden use case would link the vibrance of flower petals to the user's sleep patterns via HealthKit API.
If the user has been sleeping too infrequently, a plant by their window might subsequently appear withered or dry.
Garden houseplants are an emotive, ambient means to encourage the user to self-evaluate their behavior.
By removing the visualization of certain data from the center, into an ambient source like a stationary houseplant, a more distributed hierarchy of attention is restored.
The more distributed this hierarchy, the more encalmed the user.