Cigarettes are hard to kick not just because of the nicotine, but the fact that they give you something to do with your hands. The “Substitute Phone” from Vienna-based designer Klemens Schillinger works on the same principal, if you think of content as the drug and your phone’s touchscreen as the tactile addiction. The five models look and feel like a phone, but instead of a screen, there are stone beads embedded in slots at various angles. You can just grab it and swipe, pinch and scroll, satisfying that physical need without the nicotine/content.
“More and more often one feels the urge to check their phone, even if you are not expecting a specific message or call,” Schillinger told Dezeen. “These observations inspired the idea of making a tool that would help stop this ‘checking’ behaviour.”
The handsome “devices” are made from black polyoxymethylene (acetal) plastic that simulates the heft of a phone, while the beads are natural Howlith stone. Assuming you’re willing to carry some or all five on you, they can simulate scrolling, zooming and swiping. That, Schillinger notes, calms users and helps them cope with the withdrawal symptoms. “There are no digital functions,” he adds.
The Substitute Phone was inspired by the tactile part of the smoking addiction, he said. Schillinger is also the designer behind a lamp that doesn’t work unless you feed it your smartphone, so he’s clearly serious about making our lives more analog.