For those of you who followed the evolution of Kovert Designs, you’ll recognise that today is a big day for us. With the official launch of our first product line ALTRUIS, we also reveal a brand new identity, and an evolved set of ambitions. Allow us to re-introduce ourselves…
We Are VINAYA
A research and design house creating lifestyle-enhancing technology products. Our mission is to better understand the relationship between humans and technology, in order to design products that enhance wellbeing in the digital age.
The spark that ignited our company came about in February 2013, when Founder and CEO Kate Unsworth– at the time immersed in an always-on corporate job and smartphone-addicted lifestyle– realised she had become a shadow of her former self. More importantly, she recognised that her screen-obsessed ways were impacting her ability to be empathic and present.
After an eye-opening two week digital detox and some much-needed introspection, Kate realised the importance of re-establishing balance in her life. But despite her best efforts, she found it near impossible to manage her city-dweller lifestyle without being somewhat digitally connected.
The problem: Kate found she only had two digital options: 'ON' or 'OFF'.
She couldn't find a sensible way to remain connected to the most important people/things, but silence the noise. Worst of all, the more aware she became of her digital habits, the more she realised she only had herself to blame. This repetitive checking 'just in case', and her mind's ability to wander back to her phone at the slightest pause in conversation, was almost paralysing.
So began her mission to reset the balance between digital and physical. Quickly she realised that, despite best efforts, her attempts were futile as she didn't have the right tools required. She realised she needed ALTRUIS.
Over the past two years, Kate and her co-founders Dan Möller and Fabio Pania have been busy building a likeminded team to help make their vision a reality (based out of East London's coolest entrepreneurial hub Second Home). Each day has been consumed with philosophising, designing, engineering, researching, testing, strategising, and optimising.
From humble beginnings, VINAYA is now a fast-growing family of curious minds, representing 18 countries and speaking over 30 languages collectively. The team is made up of engineers, data scientists, product designers, neuroscientists, digital anthropologists, strategists, and creatives...
The team's commonality: we're each compelled to better understand how our dependence on technology affects our ability to be human.
In the past year, we’ve made a dent in the fashion and wearable technology worlds with mentions in Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, The Financial Times, Fast Company, The New York Times, BBC, and many more. But these were just baby steps... Our learnings from building ALTRUIS have fuelled us with even more passion to widen our scope.
The future: we’re now ready to delve deeper into the science of the modern human condition.
As VINAYA, our mission is to create a modern science hub that encourages cross-pollination of a range of expertise in order to better to understand the human psyche.
Sitting at the intersection of neuroscience, philosophy, psychology, and mindfulness, we delve into areas such as human connection, happiness, tranquility, stress, hyper-connectivity, depression, anxiety, sleep and productivity.
Our name draws inspiration from the sacred Sanskrit word ‘Vinaya’, referring to the disciplinary teachings of Buddha that play a pivotal role in monastic life. Unlike the Dharma– or the Truth expounded by Buddha, which is not changeable under any circumstances– certain Vinaya rules should in fact be adapted to reflect the modernisation of society. Similarly, we believe we must adapt to an ever-changing society and evolving technological landscape, but without losing connection to our core human truths. This is one of the greatest challenges faced by today's generation.
From Nov 1st 2015, our company will be split into two interconnected parts: the Lab and the Studio. In our Lab, we formalise a foundation for a body of research on the relationship between humans and technology. In our Studio, insights from our research are injected into designing meaningful technology products.
All of these activities will take place at our new home, VINAYA HOUSE, a 3-storey building in the heart of East London’s Shoreditch. We’ll soon open our doors to a community of experts and likeminded ideators, with a range of activities such as science lectures and cutting-edge experiments.
We believe that it's only through facilitating such a human-centric research loop that we can arrive at meaningful solutions. Our aim is to become a go-to resource for lifestyle management in the digital age, and to pave the path for mindful technology innovation.
For the past two years, we’ve been particularly driven to understand how our relationship with smartphones negatively impacts our ability to be human. We've become well-versed on the subject of smartphone addiction, a global phenomenon affecting most of us in modern society. We've learned that our smartphone habits result in a decreased level of patience, reduced levels of empathy, dwindling conversational skills, challenges with real human connection and an inability to be alone with our own thoughts– not to mention the negative effects on our ability to focus.
Our solution? Today we officially reveal ALTRUIS, a collection of designer wearable technology that enables you to stay present in the moment and improve your relationship with your smartphone. With ALTRUIS, you can find the middle ground between being ‘connected’ and ‘disconnected’. By allowing you to remove yourself from unnecessary distractions, you can focus on the people and things that truly matter in the moment.
The Bluetooth-enabled rings, bracelets and necklaces subtly alert their wearer by way of discrete vibrations. The jewellery pairs with the ALTRUIS iOS app that lets the you prioritize which emails, messages, and calls deserve your attention throughout the day. By filtering notifications via ALTRUIS, you remain connected to your digital life, whilst keeping your attention-seeking smartphone out of sight, out of mind.
After using ALTRUIS for a while, you’ll grow to better understand your own digital habits, the first step towards resetting your digital balance.
ALTRUIS. Get back to real life.
* Since soft-launching ALTRUIS in very limited edition last year, this new release features mechanically improved jewellery design, enhanced embedded technology and a brand new iOS app.