What if you couldn't open your present until a prearranged time?

The Timeless Box, a mash-up of time capsule and gift box, is an aluminum safe that opens by timer.

“We have all these gadgets that give us control and power,” says Ignasi Giró, creative director of agency Honest & Smile in Barcelona. “The Timeless Box is the anti-gadget. It takes all control out of your hands.”

You put something inside, set a date for it to pop open, and it slowly counts down the days on a small display, until in the last day it displays hours, minutes, and then beeps out the last 60 seconds.

Only when it reaches zero does the top door pop open.

If you’re going to be out of town for someone’s birthday, you can give a gift in the Timeless Box ahead of time, and know that it is in their presence, ticking away.

2013-12-13

A Present With A Timer, To Countdown Until The Holidays

What if you couldn't open your present until a prearranged time? The Timeless Box will forcibly delay your gratification.

The Timeless Box is an aluminum safe that opens by timer, an Indiegogo-funded stunt by a creative advertising agency, and a poetic project by a former physicist to combat our real-time world. “We have all these gadgets that give us control and power,” says Ignasi Giró, creative director of agency Happy Honest & Smile in Barcelona. “The Timeless Box is the anti-gadget. It takes all control out of your hands.”

The idea is a kind of mash-up of time capsule and gift box. You put something inside, set a date for it to pop open, and it slowly counts down the days on a small display, until in the last day it displays hours, minutes, and then beeps out the last 60 seconds. Only when it reaches zero does the top door pop open. If you’re going to be out of town for someone’s birthday, you can give a gift in the Timeless Box ahead of time, and know that it is in their presence, ticking away.

There are to be versions in aluminum and titanium, lasting one year or 10 years, but the appearance and construction is essentially the same. The most difficult aspect of engineering was making sure that the opening would be satisfying and also energy efficient. "People will wait weeks, months, even years for their Timeless Box to be open," says Giró. "So it absolutely had to be a memorable, epic opening."

Other than that, there's not much to it. "The principle was to keep it as simple as possible,” says Giró. But with great simplicity comes great limitations. The timer is set in days, and thus will only open some increment of 24 hours after it’s sealed. If you send it to your cousin in London to get her gift at breakfast, you better make sure you calculated the time difference correctly.

Gift-giving is only one of many uses Giró envisions. They have a functioning prototype, which Giró has been using to leave notes for himself. Others offered that you could make a bet, and have all involved leave their wagers in until after the bet has resolved itself.

When I spoke with Giró he was working on renderings of new potential variations that he is discussing with investors. One in plastic for children. One with a remote control, so that you can open it from afar. “We have too many directions,” says Giró. “We have to constrain.”

The first thing I thought of when I heard about it was the gadget-critic Evgeny Morozov, who puts his cell phone and router inside a safe with a timed combination lock in order to better focus on the offline world. As I described this to Giró, he interrupted with “Wow!” and “Awesome!” seemingly enthusiastic about this possible use of the Timeless Box (though of course, any would-be Morozov would need to part with their gadgets for some increment of exactly 24 hours).

However it's put to use, some hurdles remain, especially for using it to give gifts to people who are ordinarily far away. "We have to make the airport test," says Giró. "What happens when you try to check in with this object? I do not know what will happen then."

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