A tool that enables you to take a break from your phone

Made by John Kim

More than 90 percent of people keep their phones within three feet of them, twenty-four hours a day (source: Morgan Stanley Internet Trends report). Always present and on hand, smartphones often interrupt our experiences. The mental and physical presence is difficult to draw away from. Smartphone users need to take a break from their devices every now and then. 

Timeout is a handmade wooden box that enables you to take a break from your phone, simply by placing it inside. With one simple action, you are free from the digital world’s interruptions. Spend quality time interacting with people around you. Work on a task that requires concentration or spend the time for pure relaxation. 

How does it work?

The box has a structure that divides the space into two. The space on the bottom is where the central system of the box lives, and the space on top is where a smartphone can be placed.

Once a smartphone is placed in the box, it is recognized by the box through Bluetooth connection. At the same time it activates software that prohibits the smartphone from ringing or vibrating.

While the smartphone is placed in this box, it is out of our sight. This enables our brain to not think about it. However if the phone were to ring and remind us about its existence, our attention would return right back to it. Because there isn’t any view or sound of the smartphone, we can entirely take it off our mind. 

Timeout also has a feature to send an auto-reply message to the caller. When the phone receives a call or text, it will not make a sound. Instead it will let the box know about the incoming communication, and the Timeout will send an auto-reply message to the caller explaining that we are having a break from our smartphones. It will also inform them that we will contact them later when available. Since many of us were concerned about the obligation to reply immediately, this will take some pressure of our shoulders.

The last feature is the emergency number feature. We can create a special group and include selected contacts. When these contacts receive an auto-reply message, they will also receive an emergency number. These numbers can be used when there is an urgent need to reach out to us. When the emergency number is dialed, the box itself will send out an auditory and visual signal. 

OPEN IxD 2014: Engage, John T. Kim

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