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This Portland-Made Scale Can Track the Next Economic Collapse in Real Time

August & Wonder's beautiful brass sculpture responds to 11 stock market indices and four cryptocurrencies.

By Emily Davis May 22, 2018

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Image: Steve August

Keeping an eye on ever-fluctuating financial markets requires constant digital vigilance and glues us to our screens. That's a problem Steve August, the Portland-based tech entrepreneur behind August & Wonder, wanted to solve.

August created the Market, a physical scale that can sit on your desk and track the rise and fall of the stock market. This kinetic sculpture, made to respond to real-time changes in actual world markets, is made of brass and wood and shaped like a seesaw, one side supporting a bull and the other a bear. (The animals are classic symbols representing the rise and fall of the market.) August describes his creation as having "a steampunk aesthetic on the outside and very modern technology on the inside.”

“As the cost of technology has come down, there are opportunities to integrate [technology] into things that look like art,” he says. “[The Market] could succeed even if it wasn’t animated, but to bring that extra layer—it adds to the experience of technology.”

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Image: Steve August

Indeed, as August explains, it's not just a hunk of brass. The $495 sculpture connects to wi-fi, and users can control the settings via an accompanying app. They can personalize how often it updates—from every minute to once an hour—and select any or all of the 11 stock market indices and four cryptocurrencies the sculpture can watch. The Market tilts based on the market's readings to within a tenth of a percent. The Market comes cordless, too, and the sculpture will sleep while the market is closed, saving its two-week battery life.

While August is only creating 300 of these limited-edition sculptures, he hopes to continue bridging gaps between technology and art. His company, he says, has several conceptual ideas in the works right now.

"We wanted to take a different look at technology," he says. "It is all around us, and it gives us all these miracles, but it also sucks us out of our world. The idea is to create a connection to something out in the world that relays information. A fusion between décor and smart technology."

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