Coming Soon: Wallets That Stop You From Overspending

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology counts among its famous alumni Richard P. Feynman (the physicist who helped develop the atom bomb), Paul R. Krugman (who won a 2008 Nobel Prize in economics), and Benjamin Netanyahu (the prime minister of Israel). Now an MIT team of researchers has turned its scientific mind toward a seemingly mundane device: the ordinary wallet.

So they’ve created the Proverbial Wallet. Actually, three of them.

“We have trouble controlling our consumer impulses,” says the MIT Media Lab team on its website. “When we pull a product off the shelf, do we know what our bank account balance is, or whether we’re over budget for the month? Our existing senses are inadequate to warn us.”

So these three prototype wallets warn you in very different ways…

The Bumblebee

The friendliest of the trio is the Bumblebee, which contains a tiny motor that vibrates whenever your bank processes a transaction. How does it know? The wallet connects via Bluetooth to your cellphone, then checks in with your bank. “The intensity of the vibration correlates to the amount of the transaction,” says the team’s report, “Tangible Interface for Financial Awareness” [PDF].

The Mother Bear

Instead of a motor, this wallet contains a small, strong hinge. As your bank account gets smaller, it gets stronger – making it difficult to open. “This concept uses a passive circuit at its heart,” reads the report. “A hinge has been made out of a motor that can be shorted, and the two leaves of the hinge are sown into the sides of a wallet. When the motor is shorted with a small switch, the hinge offers more resistance, making the wallet harder to open or close.”

The Peacock

After buzzing and locking down, what’s left? How about inflating? When you’re flush with cash, the wallet plumps up. When you’re a tad short, the wallet shrinks. “This concept uses a servo embedded in a wallet, which is commanded by a square wave of varying frequency to rotate its arm from parallel to perpendicular to the wallet surface,” MIT explains.

Sadly, none of these wallets are yet available for sale. But the MIT team has grand plans for taking its Proverbial Wallets to the sci-fi levels using “shape-memory metal” that wouldn’t require hinges and motors.

What will they think of next?

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
How to Buy a Refrigerator, Step by Step
How to Buy a Refrigerator, Step by Step

Here’s how I got the perfect appliance at the perfect price.

How to Get the Best Possible Deal on Car Insurance
How to Get the Best Possible Deal on Car Insurance

This is the last article on understanding and shopping for car insurance that you’ll ever need.

9 Items Under $25 That Will Keep Your House Clean
9 Items Under $25 That Will Keep Your House Clean

We’ve rounded up some of the best products for cleaning your bathroom, kitchen and every other room.

36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon
36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon

The writing is on the wall for dozens of things we have grown up with.

3 Big Medicare Costs Just Got Bigger
3 Big Medicare Costs Just Got Bigger

Some Medicare premiums and deductibles for 2020 will take a bigger bite out of Social Security payments.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco

This leader in bulk shopping is a great place to find discounts in the fixed-income years.

Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines
Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines

Fall is the time to schedule vaccines that can keep you healthy — and even save your life.

11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older
11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older

There is no need to wait until you’re 65 to take advantage of so-called “senior” discounts.

11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous
11 Household Items That Go Bad — or Become Dangerous

When you get the impulse to stockpile these everyday items, pay close attention to their expiration dates.

8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies
8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies

In this age of higher-priced drugs and complex health care systems, a trip to the pharmacy can spark worry. Freebies sure do help.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America
The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America

A new model parks atop the list of vehicles that thieves love to pilfer.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020
The 15 Worst States for Retirees in 2020

Based on dozens of metrics tied to affordability, quality of life and health care, these are not ideal places to spend retirement.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62
10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62

If you can, here are several good reasons to retire earlier than we’re told to.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income
26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income

These states won’t tax any of your Social Security income — and in some cases, other types of retirement income.

5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles
5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles

Pushing your car to 200,000 miles — and beyond — can save you piles of cash. Here’s how to get there.

14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare
14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare

These services could save you money and help prevent costly health problems.

5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees
5 Things That Make Life More Meaningful for Retirees

Retirees agree: These are the things that give them purpose and fulfillment in their golden years.

15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
15 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.