We all spend too much time looking at our mobile phones—while spending time with loved ones, while we should be actually watching the concert we’re attending, while our brains are trying to shut down and get ready for sleep.
Google, which has spent two decades creating reasons for us to be glued to our phones, has had a twinge of conscience in recent years. It’s formed a crack team of designers and technical experts to row back this dependence and create a healthier relationship with our handheld devices.
The result is a series of awareness-building “digital wellness tools.” These include Post Box, which stops push notifications arriving constantly and instead delivers them together at specified points throughout the day; Desert Island, which blocks everything except essential applications; and the Unlock Clock, which turns a phone wallpaper into a counter of the number of times the phone has been unlocked in one day.
And now, this wellness drive has moved physical—tackling the very phone itself.
In partnership with design studio Special Projects, Google has launched ‘Paper Phone.’ Fast Company reports that this is essentially a print out of all of the things a phone would normally do during a day, folded up to look like a phone.
However, it reportedly works really well. Users download an Android application and whatever information they’d like to have access to offline. This could be a list of basic Spanish phrases, a map of the route from your office to the restaurant tonight, information about the weather throughout the day and all of the phone contacts for the people you’re meeting later.
Coming out of a designer’s office, the Paper Phone is obviously pleasing to look at—a minimalist throwback. One that seems, at least according to Fast Company, to make it easier to rescue a busy 21st-century life from our mobile playthings.
“We hope this little experiment can help you try a digital detox from technology and help you focus on the things that matter the most,” Google writes. “Paper Phone is an experimental open source Android app which is available to try right now.”
Robert Scott Lazar