SURROGATE

This is a fake phone

Surrogate is a cement replica of a smartphone. It replaces your real phone with a non-functional one. 

– Prototyping & User Research, Product Design –


Throughout a lot of my thesis work, I used absence as a material. Surrogate gives people a period of absence away from one of the main sources of distraction in our lives, our smartphones, but without the anxiety that can come along with being completely without our phones. Phantom phone is real. 

During my research, I discovered that you can't just tell someone to do nothing, you need to provide them with something, in this case a tool. Behavioral science suggests that to break one habit, we need to replace it with a new one. Surrogate aims to do just that. 

Yes, we live in a world where a fake phone has value

Prototyping and testing with Surrogate showed that yes, we live in a world where a fake phone has value. One user kept the surrogate on him during an interview when he didn't want to be stressed about having his phone ring, but also didn't want the anxiety of feeling that his phone was missing. Another reported that the surrogate drew awareness to the countless times he unconsciously reaches for his phone throughout the day. Surrogate urges us to start using our devices less. 

You can see further research into the benefits of intentionally doing nothing in my book, The Void