The Isophone is essentially a telecommunications device providing a service that can be described simply as a meeting of the telephone and the floatation tank.
The user wears a helmet that blocks out all peripheral sensory distraction whilst keeping the head above the surface of the water. The water is heated to body temperature blurring the physical boundaries of the users body. Floating in this manner frees up to 90% of the brains workload normally engaged with calculating the lie of gravity. In combination, a space is created for providing a pure, distraction free environment for making a telephone call.
Only a couple of decades ago our primary means of telecommunication was the telephone box, this essentially provides a contextually neutral space for remote conversation. Entering a telephone box effectively equates to a cessation of all other activities allowing the individual to concentrate solely on the conversation. Here the designer not only considers the communication technology but also the space in which it is used.
The growth of mobile telephone usage however has led to telecommunication being practiced in an efficient rather that a qualitative manner. The mobile phone decontextualizes conversation. It extracts talk from specific social context, offering the user freedom to communicate from virtually any social situation regardless of the suitability. It is down to the sensitivity and discretion of the user to decide if their circumstances are suitable for communicating.
The Isophone attempts to redress this imbalance by providing a space totally dedicated to telecommunication. Effectively going against the grain of mainstream design, the Iso-phone trades contemporary preoccupation with efficient, ubiquitous and multi-functioning products for quality and depth of a singular experience, requiring total immersion into the telecommunications media.
The Iso-phone went to Ars Electronica in 2004. For this event we developed Iso-phone MKII. Utilizing and off the shelf scuba mask and telephone connection we provided full audience participation. Over the 4 days of the event over 40 people used the Iso-phone to make calls of 30 minutes each.