Justine Haupt, a developer of astronomy instrumentation at Brookhaven National Laboratory, spent the last three years developing a device that strips away all of the non-phone functions of modern smartphones. The Portable Wireless Electronic Digital Rotary Telephone (aka Rotary Cellphone) does not have a touchscreen, menus, or other superfluous features. It fits in Haupt’s pocket, and it makes calls.
The first version of Haupt’s anti-smartphone was made using a cellphone radio development board. As the project progressed, she worked out a way to make it compact, to view missed calls on a small display, and to ensure that the device could be taken apart and fixed if necessary. While the Rotary Cellphone may seem like a fun novelty, Haupt (until now a devoted flip phone user) says that is not the point. Everything from the removable antenna to dedicated speed dial keys for her husband and other contacts is utilitarian and a direct contrast to what many of you are reading this article on right now.
“This is a statement against a world of touchscreens, hyperconnectivity, and complacency with big brother watchdogs,” Haupt writes on her website. In a post sharing the open source design, she adds that “in a finicky, annoying, touchscreen world of hyperconnected people using phones they have no control over or understanding of, I wanted something that would be entirely mine, personal, and absolutely tactile, while also giving me an excuse for not texting.” (via Kottke)
Do stories and artists like this matter to you? Become a Colossal Member and support independent arts publishing. Join a community of like-minded readers who are passionate about contemporary art, apply for our annual grant, and get exclusive access to interviews, partner discounts, and event tickets.