Can't live without smartphone? Substitute Phone helps you overcome it

To combat smartphone addiction, Austrian designer Klemens Schillinger has come up with an alternative he called the Substitute Phone.

Two women on their smartphones are seen outside a clothes retail shop on October 8, 2011 (UltraSlo1/Flickr)

In this generation, smartphones are like body parts that most people cannot live without. While it poses a great health risk, phone owners seem reluctant to move around every day without picking up this little electronic device. To combat smartphone addiction, Austrian designer Klemens Schillinger has come up with an alternative he called the Substitute Phone.

A set of therapeutic phone-like objects are aimed at helping smartphone addicts cope up with being away from their devices. Schillinger used stone beads to simulate the different motions used for smart devices, like swiping, scrolling and zooming.

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With the aid of the stone beads, the Substitute Phone can help users cope with withdrawal symptoms in a way that a physical stimulation is present in the process. In an interview with London-based architecture, interiors and design magazine Dezeen, Schillinger said there is a sense of 'escape' with the help of this phone-like object.

"The touchscreen smartphone has made it possible to 'escape' into social media. We check emails and messages not only on public transport but also in social situations, for example when having drinks with friends."

As for what inspired Schillinger to come up with this design, he said a documentary film featuring Italian writer and philosopher Umberto Eco delighted him. Eco gave up his addiction to smoking by substituting his pipe with a wooden stick.

"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."

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"It was the same thing, but without the nicotine, just the physical stimulation. I remembered this and thought to make phones that would provide the physical stimulation but not the connectivity."

The beads are made of natural stone Howlite which has a marble-like appeal. These are set into a body made from black polyoxymethylene (POM) plastic, otherwise known as acetal. The weight of these beads will also replicate a real smartphone.

"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," says Schillinger.

This article was first published on November 29, 2017