MIT-designed wallets stop you splashing the cash

Posted by Kate Taylor

An MIT designer has created a wallet that becomes harder to open as you run out of money.

The wallet is one of three designs - referred to as Proverbial Wallets - that are intended to make it harder for people to spend without thinking about it. All three contain a chip with a Bluetooth connection to the user's phone, and are constantly updated with the user's current bank balance.

The Mother Bear wallet is designed to become progressively harder to open the less money the user has, thanks to a hinge that gets stiffer and stiffer to open. It can be programmed to work to a specific monthly budget.

The Peacock wallet actually grows and shrinks in line with the user's bank balance, via a small mechanical arm inside.

And the Bumblebee wallet has a little vibrating motor inside which buzzes angrily when its owner spends money, with the length of the buzz determined by the amount being spent.

"We have trouble controlling our consumer impulses, and there’s a gap between our decision and the consequences," says designer John Kestner.

"This is magnified by the digitization of money. The Proverbial Wallets use physical feedback reflecting our finances to imbue within us a subconscious sense that guides responsible decisions."

Kestner says he'd be happy to see the wallets put into commercial production. But, he says, they'd have to be cheap - they wouldn't be much of an encouragement to save money otherwise.