Designer Klemens Schillinger has created a set of therapeutic phone-like objects, to help smartphone addicts cope with being away from their devices.
The Vienna-based designer created a series of five Substitute Phones, which use stone beads to imitate the different motions used for smart devices, such as scrolling, zooming, and swiping.
By replacing digital functions with the stone beads, Schillinger aims to create a set of therapeutic tools that can help frequent smartphone users cope with withdrawal symptoms, by providing physical stimulation as a substitute for phone usage.
“The touchscreen smartphone has made it possible to ‘escape’ into social media,” he 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’ behaviour.”
When researching his project, Schillinger was inspired by a documentary featuring the Italian writer and philosopher Umberto Eco – who was trying to give up smoking by substituting his pipe with a wooden 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.”
With a marble-like appearance, each set of beads have been made using the natural stone Howlith. These were then set into a body made from black polyoxymethylene (POM) plastic – also known as acetal.
As this kind of plastic is relatively heavy, the substitute phone also replicates the weight of an ordinary smartphone – making the imitation more convincing.
“Some of these finger movements – like zooming in, or moving up and down – were born with the smartphone,” the designer told Dezeen.
“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 fidget cubes.”
This is the second project by Schillinger that aims to discourage people from using their mobile devices.
His Offline Lamp only lights up once the user is willing to surrender their smartphone, urging them to concentrate on more worthwhile activities – like reading or working.