Kick your smartphone habit with the 'Substitute Phone'

Klemens Schillinger’s Substitute Phone is designed to overcome smartphone addiction

Most of us have now developed a rather nasty habit of checking out smartphones for notifications and other stuff.

Just as fidget spinners started as a device to help stressed businessmen relief their tensions, there is now a mockup smartphone to help anxious users overcome their swiping addiction.

These 'Substitute Phones' are supposed to be therapeutic, allowing smartphone addicts to go through the same calming motions they perform on their electronic handsets "to cope with withdrawal symptoms".

But Schillinger went all the way to design five different Substitute Phone models, depending on what gesture is most addictive to you.

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Schillinger told Dezeen, "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", he explains.

The idea is to have a gadget that tickles the urges to fiddle with a phone without the need to actually check for texts, Instagram updates, or Tinder matches, with Schilliner noting he wanted to create "a tool that would help stop this "checking" behaviour". Instead, they have rows of marble-like beads that simulate the feel of swiping, zooming, and tapping on actual smartphones. In researching the project, he was inspired by a documentary featuring Italian writer Umberto Eco, who had been trying to give up smoking by replacing his pipe with a wooden stick, so Schillinger sought to make the same thing: an object that would provide a similar physical simulation but not the "hit".

"Scrolling on the stone beads is like a little massage for the fingers and a kind of soothing feeling", he said in his email. A device called the Substitute Phone may help you with that problem. These phones were featured in an exhibition earlier this fall for the Vienna Design Week. The first is the Offline Lamp, which only turns on when you put a smartphone-size object inside its drawer.

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