Time Capsule

Dazhen Yang
4 min readNov 3, 2020


prototype model

Part 1

I chose Facebook to publish items that I want to put in the time capsule, cause I found it easy to edit text for each picture. And I just signed up on Facebook when I was admitted by NYU, to join the students’ group. So this time capsule would be the first personal story published on that platform. Click here to check for more details.

Screenshot of Facebook post

Part 2

As I wrote in the Facebook post, three cameras of my collection were broken of several reasons: not opened for long time, water or other liquid got in, not customized battery model, etc. Therefore, to design the time capsule, I concerned more about the inner structure, and researched the technical problem to keep lithium battery for longer period of time. Meantime, I wrote down and drew some ideas on my sketch book.

(There are some Chinese characters in the first sketch when I thought of or found something useful, and wanted to record the ideas quickly. But most of these are less important part, and I would explain them all in this post.) Pictures below showed the process of design. The left one are several version and scattered ideas. After organizing these, iterating and choosing the final design, the picture on the right contains specific size and structure of the time capsule.

At first, I was inspired by camera bags, because the main problem I wanted to fix it to keep the cameras safe. And I could not guarantee the next person who finds this case would know how to use the camera. After decades, or even hundreds of years, people would have new method to record images and store data. They might not know how to check pictures inside the camera and USB flash disks. Though USB 3.0 port might be kept in history museum after decades. The next owner of the case might be a common person, who could not find the device to read my flash disks. So I decided to also put my computer in the time capsule.

Now, the two key characters of my time capsule:

  1. Easy to use and explore.
  2. keep the devices safe.

To improve the ‘user experience’ of it to reach the first goal, I started to think about the metaphor and interface, so a handle is designed on the top of the case. So that people would know the upper side, and if the case is buried underground, they could lift it by the handle.The first layer of the case would be computer, which could show pictures intuitively. Then the new owner could find flash disks and albums in the next two layers to view photos.

For the second goal, I need some material to avoid crash and explode. After researching, unfortunately, there is not method to keep lithium battery for hundreds of years. They could only be charged for 500 times. Finally, I just designed some structures to extend lithium batteries’ life based on existing technology: 1. charge the battery every month automatically. 2. keep batteries dry. 3. keep cameras and batteries separately or open the digital devices periodically.

Then I want the appearance of the box imply the items inside. So I wanted to design the whole box as a camera. Another thought is to make it detachable so that people who like photography could collaborate on this collection. I really value this concept, because photography is about sharing, not only pictures and stories behind them, but also spirit of sharing. So combing these two sketches, the final prototype came out.

Ideas and Sketch

The sketch of the prototype is a front view mainly, and each cellular was drawn in 3 dimensions view to show the space that could contain each item. This design looks like a bento box.

Since the prototype contains many technical concept, and need some special material that hard to find. So I made a digital model instead of physical one.

model and explanation

This video is the demo animation with more explanation:

After this was done, I found this design could also be a mobile workstation for photographers today. And I wish to continue improving this design, and make it true in the future.



Dazhen Yang