When Time Stands Still

When Time Stands Still

A conceptual smartwatch application that makes the user's mind-wandering episodes perceptible


University: Umeå Institute of Design

Duration: 3 weeks, winter 2017 / spring 2018

individual project



Mind-wandering is one of the most ubiquitous of all mental activities. The mind wanders several hundred times a day and up to 50 per cent of our waking life. Scientific studies have identified costs of mind-wandering and show that the spontaneously wandering mind has a negative impact on cognitive control, such as learning or driving a car safely. Mind-wandering is also not an enjoyable activity, in fact it make individuals less happy, as they lose contact with the present, and zone out repeatedly into the past or the future. Goal of this Graphic design project is to design a wearable GUI for yourself.  


This GUI concept proposes to monitor and map individuals’ "inner landscapes" on the smartwatch. The user navigates through his/her monitored mind-wandering activities and, if necessary, plans ahead and leverages or prevents mind-wandering through the use of alarm functionalities on the smartwatch. Learning to understand when and how often one’s mind wanders, could help to increase the user's mental autonomy in a long-term.


This smartwatch concept revolves around the idea of giving the wearer the impression that time has stopped on that smartwatch whenever he/she wanders with their mind. The more time the person mind-wanders, the more that person shifts to a different “timezone”. Ideally the user gradually becomes aware of his/her absence and focuses on the presence instead. The concept could also serve individuals who want to leverage mind-wandering, for example for creative thinking or autobiographical planning.