There's a human tendency to get addicted to things frequently depended on, so it's no surprise that the smartphone, which is also an internet communications device, a video game console, a camera, a digital Swiss Army multi-tool, has become addictive for a great number of modern folks.
With smartphones, there has emerged an inherent, unshakeable itch to keep scrolling, tapping, or flipping through something — anything just to pass the time. There's an undeniable need to fiddle, fidget, and toy with them, and it's getting out of hand. Thankfully, an Austrian designer has created something called the Substitute Phone to help smartphone addicts curb their impulses.
The Inspiration Behind The Substitute Phone
Speaking to Dezeen, product and furniture designer Klemens Schillinger says that phones are becoming an addictive object in people's lives. Users are constantly playing with them, even at times when they're not doing anything significant on it. This inspired him to design "a tool that would help stop this 'checking' behaviour."
Essentially, Schillinger created five different slabs of black polyoxymethylene plastic interrupted only by marbles on the surface. They are arranged in various ways for each design corresponding to different impulses: scrolling, pinching to zoom, or swiping. The rolling marbles give the illusion of movement, giving a tactile response.
"The shape of the Substitute Phone replicates an average smartphone, however, its functions are reduced to the movements we make hundreds of times on a daily basis," Schillinger writes on his website. "The stone beads which are incorporated in the body let you scroll, zoom and swipe. There are no digital functions."
For Smartphone Addicts
Smartphone addiction has been reported to potentially affect children's behavior. Schillinger says he aims to make the Substitute Phone a coping mechanism for a person who wants to be cured of random impulses to check their real-life smartphone. He calls the concept "a therapeutic approach." It doesn't appear to be on sale at the moment, but it was part of an exhibition during the Vienna Design Week called #Offline — Design for the (Good Old) Real World.
Schillinger makes an interesting case in indirectly comparing smartphone addiction to nicotine addiction. In researching the project, he was inspired by a documentary featuring Italian writer Umberto Eco, who had been trying to give up smoking by replacing his pipe with a wooden stick, so Schillinger sought to make the same thing: an object that would provide a similar physical simulation but not the "hit."
Check out how the Substitute Phone works below:
Thoughts about this anti-smartphone addiction object? Do you think it'll work? As always, feel free to sound off in the comments section below!