The smartphone is perhaps the defining invention of the 21st Century so far. As Elon Musk puts it, smartphones give us superintelligence at the click of a button. They also connect us with the world and help us know where we are at any given minute.
It hasn't all been good though. We are incredibly dependent on our devices, smartphone addiction is a thing, and many conversations never took place because people were too busy being buried in their devices.
Many people have tried to find an antidote to the worst aspects of smartphone technology. One of those individuals is Justine Haupt, who has just created what she dubs as a "rotary cellphone."
Extremely old school
To anyone old enough to remember rotary phones, the contraptions made dialing a number a, frankly, cumbersome task.
A user marks a number into a rotary dial (picture below) by placing a finger in the hole of the number they want to dial. They then turn the plastic dial until it reaches the metal clip and let go, allowing it to spin back into place and register the number dialed. They have to do this for every digit of a phone number. It certainly takes a more cognitive effort than our smartphones today.
But hey, maybe we need that. Maybe we need to put a little more thought into whose number we're dialing every now and then. Also, very importantly, with a rotary dialing system, the dreaded butt dial simply isn't possible.
The best of the old and new
The best thing about Haupt's design is that it is completely open-source, meaning that she has freely shared her designs so that anyone with the know-how can build it if they wish to.
Now, the cell phone isn't old-school just for the sake of it. As Justine Haupt describes on her website, where she goes into a lot of detail on the design, "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."
As Haupt explains, she chose a dial from an old Western Electric Trimline telephone as it's quite compact as far as rotary dials go. She connected that to a modern cellular chipset and a custom-designed board that was manufactured in China. The enclosure, however, was 3D printed and specially designed.
The phone does integrate some modern features, such as a 10-LED signal meter, programmable shortcut buttons for calling specific numbers, a power switch, and a curved ePaper screen (eat your heart out Samsung) that displays basic information like missed calls.
"My intent is to use it as my primary phone. It fits in a pocket.; It's reasonably compact; calling the people I most often call is faster than with my old phone, and the battery lasts almost 24 hours," Haupt explains.
Want to build one yourself? Check out the raw schematics and all of the design files here.