According to Psychology Today, about half of all Americans are suffering from a form of smartphone addiction. The term “nomophobia” has entered our lexicon to describe the fear of being without one’s phone, and we all know the feeling.
In the US, 65% of people sleep next to or with their cellphones, more than half never switch off their phone, and one in five people would rather go without shoes for a week than take a break from their mobile.
The Austrian designer Klemens Schillinger has created a tool that he hopes will help smartphone addicts to kick the habit. Aptly dubbed the Substitute Phone, Schillinger’s device is less of a device in the modern sense of the word, and more of a prosthesis to replace the extra limb our mobiles have become.
In his rationale for the design, Schillinger says: “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. The stone beads which are incorporated in the body let you scroll, zoom and swipe. There are no digital functions. The object, which some of us describe as a prosthesis, is reduced to nothing but the motions. This calming limitation offers help for smartphone addicts to cope with withdrawal symptoms.”
The Substitute Phone is a therapeutic tool that aims to curb what Schillinger refers to as the constant “checking behaviour” that many smartphone addicts exhibit. Instead of constantly checking their phones, the Substitute Phone features stone beads embedded into black polyoxymethylene plastic that allow users to mimic typical actions performed on a smartphone, such as swiping, pinching or scrolling. The Substitute Phone’s weight is also similar to the weight of a typical smartphone.
It remains to be seen whether this “crutch” will be able to help with the withdrawal symptoms of people who want to cut down on their smartphone usage, but the Substitute Phone, which was released at Vienna Design Week earlier this year, is certainly a beautifully designed work of art. It comes in five variants.