Next time you reach for your phone, think about whether it’s to look at something important or if you’re just doing it out of pure boredom and habit. For many of us, it’s often the latter, and it’s sparked an Austrian designer to create a stylish devise that satisfies this instinctual action while helping us minimize our dependence on our phones.
Meet the aptly-named Substitute Phone, which mimics the “shape weight and size” of a smartphone, designer Klemens Schillinger tells Inverse. Instead of a phone that lights up in your hand and reacts to touch commands, the face of this device instead features a row of stone beads.
“The stone beads which are incorporated in the body let you scroll, zoom and swipe,” Schillinger’s website says. “Thee (sic) object, which some of us describe as a prosthesis, is reduced to nothing but the motions.”
Schillinger says he relies on the notion that people have the “urge to constantly check their smart phone even during social situations,” just so we have something to do with our hands. The Vienna-based designer says the device offers a “therapeutic approach” to wean people off of their overuse of phones.
The stone beads on the device spin around unimpeded in any direction. With lines that mimic the directions of scrolling and swiping, the movements are familiar to those we already make on a daily basis. The device’s function isn’t actually all that different from fidget spinners and fidget cubers, which were marketed as pocket-sized devices that could offer tactile distraction and quell anxiety.