A company called Yondr has developed a sock-like casing that locks around your phone at an event, preventing you from using it, encouraging attendees to live in the moment as opposed to documenting it.
As much as everybody loves technology, it can be a double-edged sword. Smartphone use these days is so ubiquitous that many people feel it has replaced a certain intimacy of the past, where people were forced to actually interact with each other at parties, clubs, and concerts, rather than texting their friends at home or recording the event to show to them later.
Artists in particular are sensitive to this. Top EDM DJ and Grammy-winner Deadmau5 cut a gig short earlier this year when attendees of the party he was playing refused to put their phones away during his set. Rocker Jack White recently complained, "People can't clap anymore, because they've got a f*****g texting thing in their f******g hand, and probably a drink, too!" In addition, other artists are more concerned with the copyright breaches that occur when their material finds its way to the Internet before even being properly released.
The founders of Yondr tout distraction elimination as their primary target, however. "We are talking to quite a few bands about using Yondr for upcoming shows, and some are interested in making it a permanent fixture for their tours," claims CEO Graham Dugoni. "The copyright issue is certainly useful to some, but we've seen a lot more interest on the experiential side. A lot of artists simply want to have phone-free shows because they believe it makes for a better experience. Artists experience the issue most acutely, so it's not surprising they have been receptive to the idea."
Upon entering the venue, the attendee is given a Yondr case to match the size of their devcice - the case is available in three different sizes. Then a lock is placed on the device, which can easily and safely be removed upon exit, where the case is retrieved by event personnel for re-use. "We have managed to keep product costs very reasonable, so lost, damaged, or stolen cases have not been a serious issue. People stealing cases has been a rare occurrence," says Dugoni.
So far the Yondr case has been used "voluntarily" at several parties and shows in the San Francisco Bay area, where the company is located. It's too early to tell if people will accept the imposed lock-up of their device, however. Some complained that even though they interacted more with other humans, when it came time to exchange contact information with their new friends, no one had the usual means to do so these days -- a smartphone. Perhaps along with each technology case the Yondr device makers hand out, they should include a relic of another age -- a pencil.