» » » An Imagined Product Launch for a Very-Not-Imaginary Product

An Imagined Product Launch for a Very-Not-Imaginary Product


Where does the device stop and you begin? What’s it like to live as a machine? These are familiar questions to science fiction literature, but take on shocking new stakes in 2014-15 5CollDH undergraduate fellow Wouter Schievink’s project. Through a series of public art installations exploring robotics, organic material, and interactivity, his project interrogates our physical relationships with ephemeral technologies. In his own words: 


Hello, my name is Tom, co-founder of Skinskin.

I’m so glad that all of you could make it today.

It’s been a great and exciting decade for us and I can’t wait to share with you the first of many new products we’ve cooked up. I think you’re going to love them. (smiles)

We spent the last decade researching and collecting data about how people use their mobile devices, why they use them and what’s missing in them, but we don’t just crunch numbers at Skinskin. We also spent the last decade out in the field, truly exploring the potentials of our day to day technology.

Before we move on I’d like to quickly lay out where we are as consumers.

Right now any one of you (points to the audience) could go into a store and buy a smartphone.
You could buy a laptop.
You could buy a tablet computer.

These devices get the job done, but they remain cold and heartless in the way they look and in the way they feel. Not only that, but it seems as though there are forces fighting to keep these devices heartless.

For instance, what would happen if you went outside today, walked into a store, and tried to buy affectionate pocket sized warmth?

or a device that touches back?

or a smart phone which feels real great?

Everyone would call you crazy.
They called me crazy.

(Audience laughs)
Right!? right!?

At Skinskin we look at the activities and concepts have remained unpurchasable.

(takes a long pause)

We started with
(holds up his hand)

Touching is one of the most ancient human activities and the tools we use to touch have remained almost the same since humans came to be. We combine these tools into one glorious product.

Our product takes cellphone and tablet cases into new touching territory.
Right now the exterior of the devices we use are cold, made of plastic and metal.
We turn this dehumanizing experience into something delightful. (smiles)
There’s something really special about having a device which touches back.

Its an incredible feeling.
You reach your hand into your pocket and the first thing you think is … Wow (Pulls out a smartphone with a Skinskin cover)

(crowd gasps)

We love comfort and sustainability, and it’s important to do what you love.

We knew from the beginning that we had to be different in the technological sphere. So we decided to be different in every sphere. We opted for a completely sustainable one way supply chain. These skins are made out of only unintentionally killed animals, specially selected for the perfect texture and quality of fur. Our specialists are constantly patrolling streets all across the country to sustainably harvest these skins. We employ local artisans to craft the cases using their own artistic preferences. Every case as its own unique feel and touch.

The apps that come along with the case really make it feel as though you have a living breathing animal in your pocket. Its an experience that’s very hard to tell, but very easy to show. In touring this product around the country I have only seen faces of genuine excitement when people grab a hold of their phone’s new, furry exterior.

Over the last two months we have distributed hundreds of these skins to people all across the county. They love them.

We love comfort and affection,
Everyone loves comfort and affection,
it’s a market that will never die.

The case and an app custom tailored to the skin the case was made of will be released in spring 2015 for 200 dollars.

Wouter Schievink
Follow Wouter Schievink:
Wouter (Hampshire College '14) is one of six 5CollDH undergraduate fellows for the 2014-2015 academic year.