Substitute Phone

Does the following statement sound familiar? You are sitting in the metro and you grab your smartphone at the first sign of boredom or because the person next to you is completely immersed in their phone.

Phones are becoming an undeniably addictive object in our lives and we constantly interact with them—more often than not without intention. Austrian designer Klemens Schillinger created the minimal Substitute Phone as a way to help smartphone addicts cope in its absence.

Schillinger designed five facsimile phones, made of black polyoxymethylene plastic with stone beads embedded in the surface, which allows a user to replicate familiar actions, such as scrolling, pinching, or swiping. The goal is that it could be used as a coping mechanism for someone trying to check their phone less. It might seem like an odd approach, but if you’re trying to focus on using your phone less, it’s actually pretty clever.

I like the therapeutic approach to this charming object, which some of us describe as a prosthesis, in that it is reduced to nothing but the motions. This calming limitation offers help for smartphone addicts to cope with withdrawal symptoms.