Smartphone addiction is real. Most of us have had the urge to take out our smartphones and just keep scrolling for lack of something better to do. This habit gets so pronounced that we can’t keep our eyes off the screen even in social settings. While having dinner with our family and friends, we keep on thinking if there’s a notification on the phone and our hand instinctively reaches for our pocket. An Austrian designer Klemens Schillinger has a solution for this addiction. He has created a therapeutic replacement called the Substitute Phone.
He has made five of these Substitute Phones and they have rows of stone beads to imitate various motions typical to smartphone use like scrolling, zooming, and swiping. With his therapeutic tools, Schillinger aims to provide the physical simulation that is craved by frequent smartphone users. This time they spend with the substitute phone is the time they spend away from the smartphone.
“The touchscreen smartphone has made it possible to ‘escape’ into social media,” Schillinger told Dezeen. “We check emails and messages not only on public transport but also in social situations, for example when having drinks with friends. More and more often one feels the urge to check their phone, even if you are not expecting a specific message or call. These observations inspired the idea of making a tool that would help stop this ‘checking’ behavior.”
The substitute phone is the same size as a smartphone and its body is made up of acetal or polyoxymethylene (POM) plastic. The beads are marbled howlite and are integrated into the case in one of the five designs and can be rolled into place giving the same feeling as swiping across a touchscreen.
“Some of these finger movements – like zooming in, or moving up and down – were born with the smartphone,” the designer said. “The Substitute Phones allow these movements to be felt by scrolling on the marbles that are integrated into the case, something which is a clear differentiation from fidget spinners or fidgets cubes.”
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He got the motivation for the substitute phone form the Italian writer and philosopher Umberto Eco. The Italian tried to quit smoking by replacing his pipe with a stick. “It was the same thing, but without the nicotine, just the physical stimulation,” he said. “I remembered this and thought to make phones that would provide the physical stimulation but not the connectivity.”
The substitute phones are not for sale as of yet but you can contact the designer on his website. The video below shows how the substitute phone can help fight addiction.