Kickstarter

The company wants you to rely less on your phone, but its approach seems neither innovative nor effective. Plus, I’d like to think I have the self-control to limit my phone usage without having to buy a phone designed specifically for it.

It’s true that in a world where everything and everyone is connected, it’s hard to find a break and disconnect yourself from technology. That’s why a company called Siempo is kickstarting a phone that’s “re-imagined for a less distracted life.” While the idea is commendable, I’m not totally convinced that this is something we need.

If you pledge $279 or more right now, the phone can be yours by the end of this year along with a community membership. The regular price tag is going to be $319, according to its Kickstarter website. Essentially the company has added a heavy skin on top in order to optimize your use and balance “the power of technology with how it can enrich our lives.”

For instance, you have the option to reduce distractions: there is a dedicated external button to pause any incoming notifications, and of course, you can customize that to exclude your favorite contacts or incoming calls. But wait a minute, that sounds vaguely familiar, doesn’t it? While most Android phones may not have a dedicated hardware button for it, Google’s OS does offer “Do not disturb” mode, where you can do all of the above.

Siempo also says that you can fire off any action from what they call an intention field. So you can essentially type in a name, and it’ll give you an option to send that person a message or a call. Or you can type in a task, and it’ll give you an option to save it as a note or a reminder. The company claims this will help you “get on with your life without getting sidetracked,” but to me it seems like the interface encourages dependency on technology: I have the autonomy to go into my messaging app and type in the name of the person whom I want to text – the phone doesn’t have to suggest every action that it thinks I want to complete.

The phone, as you may have guessed, comes with a restricted email app and a restrained Internet browser. I don’t know what that means, but instead, it gives you an option to set timers for tasks like meditation or exercise during which the phone is essentially disabled. Again, ironically, Siempo wants you to rely on a phone to find time away from technology. Now, maybe some people have serious problems with phone addiction, but I’d like to have some faith in humanity. I, for one, have the self-control to set aside my phone when studying, meditating, etc.

Now, maybe some people have serious problems with phone addiction, but I’d like to have some faith in humanity. I, for one, have the self-control to set aside my phone when studying, meditating, etc.

All in all, $319 for a mediocre-looking phone with mediocre specs with unimaginative features that severely underestimate human willpower seems like a hefty price tag.

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