- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Smartphone addiction affects about half of the U.S. population according to Psychology Today. It’s complicated.

Some people can’t put their phones down, others suffer from “nomophobia” — a fear of being separated from or losing one’s phone. Phone anxiety is now a documented condition, complete with such symptoms as “phantom cell phone vibration” among those who imagine their device is signaling them.

But never fear. Now there is the “Substitute Phone” from Austrian designer Klemen Schillinger, which provides therapeutic motions for those who can’t stop scrolling, zooming and swiping. The phone-like object — which comes in sleek black plastic casing with calming arrays of white beads — is appropriately palm sized, with substitute features that mimic the smartphone experience.

“The shape of the Substitute Phone replicates an average smartphone, however, its functions are reduced to the movements we make hundreds of times on a daily basis. The stone beads which are incorporated in the body let you scroll, zoom and swipe. there are no digital functions. The object, which some of us describe as a prosthesis, is reduced to nothing but the motions. This calming limitation offers help for smartphone addicts to cope with withdrawal symptoms,” Mr. Schillinger explained in his rationale for the design, which has five variants.

“By replacing digital functions with the stone beads, Schillinger aims to create a set of therapeutic tools that can help frequent smartphone users cope with withdrawal symptoms, by providing physical stimulation as a substitute for phone usage,” writes Natashah Hitti, who writes for DeZeen, a design and architectural magazine based in London.

“One feels the urge to check their phone, even if you are not expecting a specific message or call,” Mr. Schillinger told the publication. “These observations inspired the idea of making a tool that would help stop this checking behavior.”

He has also created a lamp which only lights up when users surrender their smartphone in a handy slot — designed to discourage people from, yes, constantly fussing with their phones.

• Jennifer Harper can be reached at jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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