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Design

Meet the Smart Juicer That Needs You

'Gutty' is a device that makes your objects "intelligent"—only, now you're no longer the center of their universe.
11 May 2015, 8:00pm
Images courtesy the artist, via

Your Tamagotchi pretended to need you, but we all know that you were the one who actually needed the companionship. The same goes for your iPhone—you can put that thing down, because it was made for you. An avid adventurer into the realm where machines make you do what they want, however, (Read: [These Machines Will Teach You to Draw Whether You Like It Or Not](http://thecreatorsproject.vice.com/blog/these-machines-will-teach-you-to-draw-whether-you-like-it-or-not interaction)) designer Saurabh Datta believes that our fixation on ontological design, meaning, that we take single-minded approaches to creating products, means we often overlook the "whole picture, system, and futuristic speculations," of our technologies.

In response, Datta has created what he calls "a 'smart' non-invasive device that makes existing appliances smart by logging your activity." Known as Gutty, it's a platform—both literally and metaphorically—(for a juicer, in this iteration) that gives a certain kind of life to your products, one that puts itself at the center of the design process, rather than (as much as it hurts to say) you.

"Looking at the trend of the connected devices," Datta tells The Creators Project, "I found very rare influences which discuss the greater potential or other aspects of the result, rather than a selling pitch or another exhaustible product delivery promising to make our lives easier. This approach lacks thinking [about] sustainability, adherence, and future-proofing..." He imagined a technology that would disturb the idea that humans are "the center of all activity," as well as the human-object relationship. Thus, running on an internal, custom-made galvanic battery, Gutty begins to sputter and shake, alerting the user to its own needs. "If it starts making weird sounds or starts shaking, take it to a near-by kitchen sink as it would like to take a leak," he advises on Gutty's project page. "Then fill in a small portion of the food (juice, here) in the side funnel." Simply put, Gutty requires a portion of the product you've been using it to prepare to fulfill its own hunger. "Once that step's done it charges up again."

"During a course in our school a year back, me and a group of my friends ended up making a project where a set of devices were designed as peripherals which could then be connected to certain electronic kitchen appliances to know our food habits, learn from it, talk with each other on the network and send us text based minimal nudges to inspire us for a healthy diet," he explains. "Now we didn’t want to make a very crude product or very cheesy human centric device that, would say,  definitely guide you or suggest you things. We wanted it to be explorative for both multiple groups , the appliance companies and the users. We wanted people themselves discovering and adapting to things and thus wanted to have a very personalized experience." Rather than a finished product, the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design (CIID) students instead ended up with new ways of thinking about the objects that surround them. In his final few days before graduating CIID, Datta snuck into the school's labs and spent his evenings creating Gutty.

His result reduces the differences between human and object needs. Says Datta: "Breaking that barrier gives us a scope to rethink and reflect on how new products, associated interactions, and services need to be designed. In this process objects are said to conform to the mind of the subject and, in turn, become products of human cognition. This way all relations, including those between non-humans, distort their related objects in the same basic manner as human consciousness and exist on an equal footing with one another."

Ultimately, Gutty is a finished product that feels like an idea. Its existence suggests a future of interaction between non-human entities, a notion that, in a world of neverending Slinky machines and automated twitterbot love stories, we should start getting used to. Datta imagines an installation where a computer could force humans to assemble itself:

_Take the scenario of an 'educative exhibition' where people have to build a computer out of Raspberry Pi or any other such boards. The exhibition was created online by a script running on the Pi connected to a network. The whole intention of the computer is that, since it doesn't have arms or legs, it is using human resources for it's own creation. Then people come to the space and create a case, boot the computer and do all the stuff pre-instructed without a hint what was going on. And then they create an army. _

Check out images of Gutty below, and visit Saurabh Datta's website to learn more:

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