These swipe-able blocks are for smartphone addicts

By Kitty Knowles 28 November 2017

Want to scratch that itch?

Are you a smartphone addict?

You’ll know, suggests Austrian designer Klemens Schillinger, if the following sounds familiar:

“You are sitting in the metro and are grabbing your smartphone at the first sign of boredom or because the person next to you just received a message.”

Luckily, the Royal College of Art graduate has created something to help smartphone users break this reliance.

He’s made ‘Substitute Phones’ to swipe away the monotony.

Substitute Phones

Although he’s previously worked on projects for Hem, RIM-Blackberry and Kvadrat, Schillinger’s substitute smartphones are little more than blocks with moveable stone beads on top.

He created these ahead of an ‘Offline’ themed exhibition, but hopes to soon sell the products around the world.

“The idea is based on observation of people – including myself – constantly checking messages and scrolling on their phones,” he told The Memo this morning.

“I think it’s just sad when we are more concerned about what’s happing in the social media than the people around us.”

With Schillinger’s range of five phones you can imitate the functions of scrolling, zooming and swiping, but you can’t call, text or do anything ‘connected’ you might with a regular device.

“Its functions are reduced to the movements we make hundreds of times on a daily basis,” the designer explains on his website.

And he hopes that allowing smartphone addicts to go through these motions will have a soothing effect on their mental health.

“This calming limitation offers help for smartphone addicts to cope with withdrawal symptoms,” he says.

“The object as a therapeutic approach.”

The NoPhone. Pic: NoPhone, via Kickstarter
The original NoPhone. Pic: NoPhone, via Kickstarter

The dumbphone revolution

Schillinger isn’t the only ‘phone’ designer helping you ditch your smartphone. The makers of the NoPhone block insist their completely feature-less product is “no joke”.

Recent years have seen a number of paired back devices hit the market.

The NichePhone-S is a dinky ‘dumbphone’ designed to make you more mindful, sporting just a few stripped back functions – like making calls and sending texts.

Another bank card-sized device, the Light Phone only lets you make phone calls. That’s it.

While Switzerland’s Punkt is the company behind a hardcore minimalist mobile phone built to last 100 years.

Even mainstream mobile companies are getting in on the act: Nokia famously re-launched its 3310 model this year for those yearning for simpler times.

We know that more and more people are turning their backs on their smartphones than ever.

But would you swap yours for a scrollable block?