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Brief Published: 29 Nov 2019

Google Promotes Digital Detox Trend with Paper Phone

Paper Phone

As explored in our Human Tech Macro Trend, brands are reimagining the ways in which we can interact with technology in a bid to detoxify our digital relationships. Google's Experiments project – where the tech giant collaborates with artists, designers and creatives – taps into this trend with its latest release, the Paper Phone.

Created by London-based design studio Special Projects, the Paper Phone is an app that lets you choose the key information you need for the day – such as calendar invites, favourite contacts or recipes – and produces a printable booklet you can use instead of your phone.

Paper Phone is part of a suite of Digital Wellbeing apps released by Experiments with Google in November, including Desert Island, which challenges users to do away with inessential apps for a day.

Brands across industries are rethinking digital dependency in this way. In the summer, Porsche created the #GoneDriving campaign. Four social media influencers test drove the new Porsche 718 T – but with "no smartphones, no distractions – simply focus[ing] on the present and the pleasure of driving in its purest form". The campaign video has achieved over 100,000 views on Facebook since launch.

In November 2019, Canadian artisanal bakery brand Ace released the Breadblox, a special bread block designed to encourage disconnection from screens and more real-life social interaction. Instead of bread, diners place their phones inside. "We didn't want to just tell people to disconnect," said Jess Willis, VP executive creative director of Ace's agency partner, Mosaic Canada. "It was about walking the walk and actually giving people the tool to do so."

See The Market for Mindful Design and Human Tech for more on digital detoxification.