The Substitute Phone could help people deal with their smartphone addiction


TechSpot Editor
Staff member

Smartphone addiction can be a serious problem. Recent studies say the issue is getting worse as people form closer bonds with their devices, while more countries have introduced sidewalk traffic lights to address handset-related road accidents. But for those looking to cut back on their obsessive phone checking, a novel solution could be on the way.

A Vienna, Austria-based product designer called Klemens Schillinger has created the Substitute phones, a set of phone-shaped objects that could ease the cravings felt by phone addicts by simulating motions such as scrolling, swiping, and pinching.

The five imitations are made of black polyoxymethylene plastic, also known as acetal, and replicate common smartphone gestures through a series of embedded Howlith stones. Users simply swipe their fingers across the marble-like beads the same way they would on a smartphone screen.

While the objects don’t actually do anything, using them could relieve cravings in the same way as fake cigarettes have helped people stop smoking. These simple, plastic cigarette-shaped objects, which were popular before the advent of vaping, allow users to replicate the smoking action. Even without the nicotine, the simulation often eases withdrawal symptoms.

"More and more often one feels the urge to check their phone, even if you are not expecting a specific message or call. These observations inspired the idea of making a tool that would help stop this 'checking' behavior," Schillinger told Dezeen.

The Substitute phones aren’t yet available, but Schillinger’s site says they’re “coming soon.” The project was created for an exhibition called #Offline – Design for the (Good Old) Real World, which took place at the Vienna Design Week earlier this year.

For those wondering what it's like to go a month without a smartphone in today's digital age, check out this feature.

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Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
Perhaps we need to go back to the wired, rotary dial phones. Not much fascination with those and your fingers would get a good workout too!


TS Booster
Mind blowing...who thinks this stuff up.
Maybe they will happily do a trade in to help your addiction.


TS Evangelist
The same exists for smokers. They give them fake cigarettes so they can make that hand movement to the mouth.


TS Enthusiast
People develop bad habits...that's a given...drinking, drug abuse, too much time on the pc / smartphone, eating unhealthy etc...if there is a tool to curb a bad habit, I don't see that as being pathetic...especially if it works...someone is making an actual effort to curb a real problem(y)


TS Enthusiast
This does nothing to curb the addiction as to why people think they need a phone. Why would anyone think this would help?
Possibly the same reason that people eat a lot of sweets / food when they stop keep their hands / mouth busy by eating instead of smoking......your body develops a mechanic of doing a certain action at a certain time...whether you like it or not, this is the basis of most habits...if you can simulate the action without being engrossed in the said "bad habit", that can go a long way in stopping the actual habit


TS Booster
Other reason I like 90s before.

Back than people had hobbies making model airplanes, train sets, swimming, camping , building cool desktop computer, playing around with Linux, going out with freands, use nets, Rock and roll and music being polictal, electronics, ham radio, shortwave radio.

Now people are bored and mindless Facebook, Twitter and mindless movies are there life. People want to be liked and replied to. More people replie to in day be on Facebook in day saying good things about the person they feel purpose in life. And check phone 80 times day to see that Facebook post or Twitter post hoping for that like.

Tv and movie creatively has gone way down like every things else. In 10 years people will not even be able to use a computer much less Facebook, Twitter and a word processor with out some strong AI software helping them , Becuse it to hard to use computer or any thing electronic. People today can't even navatgate by use of map today with out GPS telling them where they are and how to get to the location.

And this is future we are well on way to. The dumbing down and computers, software and AI taking over.

People will not own any thing and take pride in any thing there purpose of being a life will be social media.

Well hobbies, interests, learning, skill and going out with freands will be in the history books.
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Joe Blow

How about just trade in your smartphone for an older style slider or flip phone? That works just as well.


The same exists for smokers. They give them fake cigarettes so they can make that hand movement to the mouth.
A friend of mine actually quit using a real cigarette. Carried it around, had it in his mouth. He said it helped him knowing that if ever started really freaking out, it was right there. Knowing that it was easier not to light it. One day he realized he didn't need it, threw it away.

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