Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 10 December 2019

Punkt mobile phone offers the chance for a digital detox

The Swiss company’s MP01, which only makes calls and sends texts, is now available in the UAE.
The MP01 mobile phone allows you only to send texts and make calls. Courtesy Punkt
The MP01 mobile phone allows you only to send texts and make calls. Courtesy Punkt

Maybe, just maybe, the ultimate luxury for the time-starved, constantly connected, always-on-the-go individual is a little bit of peace and quiet.

Proponents of the so-called digital detox would certainly say so. “There are many reasons why switching off is important, some more obvious than others,” says Petter Neby, founder of Punkt, the Swiss company behind the MP01 mobile phone. “Focus is definitely one of the most important. It’s proven that people perform better and enjoy experiences more if they are able to devote full attention to them. The interruptions that come with constant connectivity cause distraction, which causes cognitive fatigue.

“Boredom is another less obvious reason why it is important to switch off. Contrary to common belief, boredom gives you time to reflect and invest in creative thought. Social media is often a tempting alternative to daydreaming, but boredom is more likely to motivate you to seek meaning and purpose.”

Which is why Punkt’s MP01 makes calls and sends texts – and that’s it. Inspired by his stepdaughter, who was suffering from insomnia caused by over-connectivity, Neby decided to create the anti-smartphone. He enlisted the help of renowned British industrial designer Jasper Morrison, and launched the first iteration of the MP01 in 2011.

Did people think he was crazy? “It was an interesting mix. Some people thought it was a crazy idea that didn’t stand a chance; others embraced the idea straight away and welcomed the MP01 as a good-looking and stylish alternative to the older, basic mobile phones available on the market.”

In the UAE, the MP01 retails at Sound+Design in Abu Dhabi’s Nation Towers, and Dubai Audio Centre on Sheikh Zayed Road. During the London Design Festival this summer, the brand announced that the phone would be available in two new colour options: white and brown.

Which is all good and well – but are people actually subscribing to the idea of the digital detox, in practice, rather than theory? “There is certainly an increase in adults attempting to take some form of digital detox to wean themselves off smartphones and tablets, whether it’s on the weekends, in the evenings or just once in a while for some downtime.

“Being tethered to a device around the clock is now bothering people, especially in their private lives. This does not mean that people do not recognise the convenience of advanced technologies and smartphones, but that they are discovering that being ‘always-on’ also has disadvantages.”

The idea is not to create a replacement for smartphones, but something that will act in conjunction – a second phone that will facilitate some downtime when it’s needed.

This summer, Punkt organised the Digital Detox Challenge, inviting a select group, consisting of journalists and members of the public, to live without their phones for 48 hours. Participants were given an MP01 handset and asked to chronicle their offline experiences (both digitally and via “snail mail”); those who completed the challenge were allowed to keep their phones. “The results were astonishing,” says Neby. “I think we can safely say that people subscribe to the digital detox in practice. It may sound bizarre, but the reports reveal that in an overly connected world, it seems people feel more and more disconnected from each other and their surroundings.”

Read this and more stories in Luxury magazine, out with The National on Thursday, November 3.

sdenman@thenational.ae

Updated: October 30, 2016 04:00 AM

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