November 12, 2014 7:08 pm
Updated: November 12, 2014 7:14 pm

‘NoPhone’ creators hope product will combat smartphone addiction


TORONTO – The creative team behind a smartphone surrogate says the idea came to them when they were sitting at a bar.

“We were all kind of looking at our phones, and we kind of all looked up and said, ‘what are we doing?’ We looked around the bar and everyone else was on their smartphones too and it’s just kind of crazy how we’re all on our phones, always connected,” said co-creator Van Gould.

So they created the NoPhone, a 3-ounce, $12 piece of plastic which provides none of the technology one would expect from a smartphone.

“We’re like: ‘what if we made a piece of plastic that you could hold.’ It helps you feel normal.”

Interest grew online after they manufactured their simple design with a 3D printer.

“We received 915 backers on Kickstarter, and we’re now taking pre-orders,” Gould said adding they have sold over 1,600 units.

So what does the NoPhone do from a technological standpoint? Absolutely nothing.

“It’s just a piece of plastic,” explained Gould.

These tech specs provide a tongue-in-cheek comparison with Apple’s iPhone.

A graphic created by the NoPhone creators comparing an iPhone to their NoPhone

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The purpose of the NoPhone, however, is to break the dependence some people have on their smartphones by tricking them into believing they are still holding their phones. The NoPhone is meant to reel people back to the real work by pulling them away from the virtual one, according to Gould.

“I think there are a lot of people who are like, ‘I want to actually try this out and see if this works’ because if there’s anyway you can disconnect from always being connected to technology I think that’s a good thing.”

Technology dependence can affect our emotional intelligence according to registered psychologist Dr. Peter Gaskovski.

“You’re disconnecting more from the people who are physically around you and it can be worrisome because relationships that work depend on commitment and engagement and involvement. And that takes time. It’s a little bit easier to invest and divest yourself in a social media relationship where you can just pull out with a click of a button,” he said.

Gaskovski says symptoms of technology and smartphone dependence include taking your phone to bed, using it chronically to cure boredom or elevate your mood, and neglecting hygiene and health.

A new analysis by comScore reveals Canadians are doubling the amount of time they spend online due to the proliferation of online video and mobile-friendly browsing.

“I can’t really leave my apartment without having my phone in my pocket. I kind of feel naked,” said Gould.

“At the end of the day it’s really a question of do I own my personal device, or does my device own me,” explained Gaskovski, who has treated patients with technology addiction issues.

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