Special Projects create a playful set of envelopes to transform your smartphone into a calmer device, helping you to take a break from your digital world.
Two envelopes simplify your phone’s functionality; one turns your phone into a basic device which can only make and receive calls; the other turns your phone into a photo and video camera with no screen, helping you to focus on what’s in front of you.
A recent partnership with Google Creative Lab for their Digital Wellbeing Experiments platform inspired Special Projects to develop a concept to create an accessible and adaptable way to take a break from your smartphone. Envelope enables people to try some time away from their phone, without having to purchase a new or alternative device.
To use Envelope you simply select the right envelope for your day and seal your phone inside. One of the optional Envelopes transforms your — phone into a device which allows you only to make and receive calls, aswell as selecting one speed dial contact. A special app on the device takes over the screen and simply waits for you to dial. The wonderful thing about paper is that light shines through it which enables the design to be delightfully calm, with magical printed buttons on the envelope that glow when pressed.
The second envelope acts as a minimal camera, allowing you only to take photos and videos. But you have to wait until the end of the day to see the picture, reminiscent of simpler times when you had to have photos developed to see them. Amazingly, touch screens still work through a layer of paper which means that functions such as fingerprint unlocking still work, and the app user interface is optimised for OLED displays, so it won’t drain your battery if it’s on all day.
Most of Special Projects’ work explores using physical objects as tangible ways of interacting with technology, and in this particular concept a piece of paper acts as an incredibly basic, one-way user interface between a person and the information in their device.
Adrian Westaway, Co-Founder and Director of Technology & Magic at Special Projects says: “As a studio we’re interested in the theme of digital wellbeing, and more specifically how leading technology companies are now integrating wellbeing features into their software. We made Envelope and Paper Phone to give people a chance to easily spend a little time away from technology and assess the value it gives them. Think of it like a recalibration, a chance to take a break and gain a little perspective on your relationship with technology.”
You can download the pdf and print it out to make your own envelope right now. Currently only the Google Pixel 3a is supported.