Millennial IoT Wallet Challenge

A recent crowdsourcing challenge piqued community interest by urging its members to rethink what every modern millennial is (hopefully) carrying around in their back pocket––a wallet.

The catch? It couldn’t just be any old folded up piece of leather, but a wallet worthy of ushering the title “IoT” (Internet of Things). Oh, and it also had to be affordable ($10-$30) and educational to boot.

We know what you’re thinking. How can a wallet be educational?

This design curveball stemmed from an identified need within the millennial generation for personal finance coaching. The intention was to create a wallet that could serve multiple purposes: contain money, track expenditures, and––brace yourself––teach the user about his/her spending habits.

To highlight the “why” behind the challenge, the sponsoring platform referred to a study published by the American Psychological Association on consumer behavior in the increasingly digitized world. This study on economic psychology corroborated the importance of consumer decision-making in the context of a phenomenon referred to as “pain of paying.”

What is “pain of paying”?

In basic terms, the “pain of paying” is a heightened awareness of spending money; it’s described as the experience of psychological discomfort when we’re forced to part with our hard-earned cash. In contrast, credit cards, tokens, gift certificates, and other non-cash payment forms bypass this discomfort by separating the time of purchase from the time of payment.

In other words, you’re statistically less likely to spend money on something when you’re forced to hand over the full dollar amount on the spot.

The IoT wallet design challenge aimed to remind us that not all pain is bad; in fact, a little pain can be a healthy thing if it saves us from experiencing unnecessary suffering down the road.

Today, credit cards and other mobile currencies are quickly replacing cash as the preferred method of payment, so innovators were asked to create a device capable of accessing, handling, and tracking electronic currency while providing a clear understanding of the user’s spending habits.

What were the parameters?

The parameters of the challenge remained as broad as possible to encourage unorthodox designs and innovative solutions––qualities that shine brightest in crowdsourcing.

The conceptual wallet had to be small enough to fit into a pocket or be worn, inexpensive, and consist of existing technologies and materials. Making things a little trickier, the wallet also had to function in a way that reinforced the user’s conscious act of spending money and allow meaningful access to at least one account balance that can be checked online.

The IoT wallet challenge included a brief of additional considerations and helpful resources. The awards totaled $1,000 across two categories: Judge Award ($800) and Community Vote ($200). The latter was intended to foster community discussion on design, functionality, and potential blockers––a hub for innovative thinkers to exchange ideas and recruit partners.

And the winners were…?

This particular challenge proved daunting for even the most determined engineers.

Out of 2,329 solution providers, there were only 22 submissions. Some voiced the difficulty of conceptualizing a final product with so few parameters, others argued that creating a device to impart such meaningful themes cannot be accomplished by a smartphone alone.

Username mahireddyof Kapur rose to the challenge with his winning design, simply named Da, a meticulously organized UI fitted into a compact, lightweight aluminum shell and finished with a band of luxurious leather. The Da’s UI was broken down into several vibrant, illustrated pages, including Goals, Saving Analytics, Goals Progress, and Coupons History for quick user reference. The challenge sponsor noted that mahireddy’s strategic inclusion of spending graphs were intuitive to read and exemplified how to communicate informetricsin an engaging manner.

In contrast, the community vote winner, Entry, differed significantly in terms of functionality. Utilizing a row of LED indicators on its backside, Entry was programmed to warn the user when a spending limit had been reached within a specified time period (e.g., morning, afternoon, evening, week, and/or month.) This limit could be determined by the user through a mobile app linked to their Entry device, allowing them to remotely access and review their spending habits.

The grand takeaway

Both wallets exemplified a beautiful union between innovation and functionality, while also showcasing their own set of unique features. Da’s greatest strength was arguably in its autonomous tracking system and thoughtfully crafted UI, but Entry’s practicality and longer battery life won the admiration of community members.

Most importantly, the IoT wallet challenge spurred thought-provoking discussions and collaborations between innovators around the world, resulting in a rich exchange of ideas from otherwise unlikely sources. Crowdsourcing opportunities such as this open up the possibility for companies to expand beyond their own network and tap into a virtually limitless pool of raw creative potential.

For a mere $1,000 sponsorship, manufacturers can potentially bypass months of experimental research and development, saving up to ten times that amount on future funding for new projects. In a span of just one month, the IoT wallet challenge led to over 20 design variations, each with their own set of unique features and educational functions.

Projects like this expertly showcase how crowdsourcing can yield astonishing results in a relatively short span of time. Companies no longer have to be bound by lengthy production cycles or limited resources, this is the age of the “gig-economy”––innovation is literally just a few clicks away.

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