Here’s the tech that controls your tech addiction

Ironic to say the least! There’s tech that helps us control our addiction to our smartphone.

Here’s the problem – we are interrupted every 8-12 minutes by a notification on our phone. We’ve got so used to looking at our phone, we can’t look away.
The solution? Simple – turn off your notifications and put down your phone. Easier said than done! Now a whole bunch of clever people have developed tech to stop us being distracted by our phones. The tools range from the subtle to the radical. And the more radical, the more expensive and the more in demand!

No more tick tock

Have you ever noticed the first thing you see on your phone is the time? The time is on the first screen before you even unlock your phone. From your first glance as you wake up to your phone alarm until you go to bed a night, there’s a constant reminder ….. tick, tock, tick, tock…… life is moving on.
What would happen if the first thing you saw when you looked at your phone was a flower? And just so you don’t get too bored there is a new one every day. Spending time in nature improves our mental health. May be seeing nature on your opening screen will also improve your mental health.
Appropriately I meet with Nicolas Meriel on a cool, peaceful morning by Lake Zürich. The developer of Flamboyant Flowers app. Nicolas shares a funny story of when he showed it to someone they kept asking “…but what does it do?” We are so programmed for more that we are surprised when less is more. He also shares that people are so surprised and suspicious it is free. People ask – so what’s the catch?
There is no catch, so what do you have to lose? Just a few moments less looking the time. Unfortunately, it is only available on Android

Juce to go please

Problem: Meetings where everyone is looking at their phone instead of concentrating on the meeting.

Solutions: You could ask people to put their phones away (ever noticed how people think that by looking at their phone under the desk you won’t notice it?). Or everyone puts their phone in a box, like this one like this one at IIH Nordic. Or you could have a super-slick box called JUCE Arena where your phone gets put into “do not disturb” mode and charged while waiting.

I met Julien Yee the co-founder of JUCE in a techie way, on LinkedIn. Launching their product in October 2019 I’m looking forward to seeing the JUCE Arena sitting next the conference phone in meeting rooms soon.

Blocked, stock and barrel

But it is not just business meetings. What about those dinner parties, romantic dates and guests that spend their time on their phones instead of talking? Drop your visitor’s phone into block and it is blocked. No more pings, vibrates, rings.

I’m imagining a future scene as your guests arrive for dinner:

Hello so great to see you! Come in, come in. Yes, let me take your coat, your umbrella and your phone.
For the developers of Block I fear that it is some way off into the future before social etiquette means it is acceptable to confiscate your guests’ phones at the door. And I definitely wouldn’t advise it on the first date – if you want a second date.

Shades of Grey

I admire Nicolas’ blloc phone during our meeting about the flamboyant flowers app. A minimalist phone that designed to be non-distracting. Black and white (you can turn on the colour with press of your thumb). Using minimalist icons there’s no bright colours or little red buttons telling you that 100 notifications are waiting. Keeping it plain and simple, but not so simple to buy. With a waiting list as “supplies are limited due to demand” there are a lot of people who want to go back to black.

From the subtle app on your front screen to the radical solution of a new device, the tech is here to help you not be distracted. It all comes at a price, not just in money but also handing over control. The cheapest alternative to any of this tech is pure self-control. Instead, we are willing to pay for tech to limit our distractions, rather than exercise self restraint. Ironically surrendering our control to yet another piece of tech help us avoid from temptation.

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