If your phones are anything like mine, they are constantly buzzing, ringing, vibrating, blinking, flashing and, well … you get the picture. When you're bored or lonely, a constant influx of notifications can give you exactly what you need right when you need it. There's no feeling quite as gratifying as publishing my last article or tweeting something snarky and getting 50 retweet notifications – each one feels just as great as the last.
At times, though, the never-ending flow of notifications can be a bit much.
People always call me at the worst times, text me expecting a long conversation as I'm just beginning to write an article or tag me in a comment thread on Facebook that is spiraling out of control. It's times like these that I wish I could just shut everything off and have a few minutes of complete, total silence. I could, of course. I could just turn my phones off or put them on silent and throw them in a drawer to forget about for a while. I've done both, and the methods serve their purpose.
I'm currently to the point where I get so many notifications from Facebook, Twitter, email, text messages, updates and reminders that by the end of the day, the last thing I want to do is look at another phone or feel it vibrate in my pocket. So I generally throw them (or at least one of the two) on silent and leave it in another room.
But there has to be a better way, something more gratifying with more finesse than simply turning your phone off.
Enter designer Victor Johansson and the Escape jacket.
In search of "ways to give people more time," Johansson settled for "removing (connected) time." He explains, "… luxury is often more about the things you remove than the things you add." So he designed and created the Escape jacket, which houses a Faraday cage and NFC tag, to help people disconnect with more style and class. Johansson says:
"The idea is that as soon as you leave work, or just want a break you put your phone in the inner pocket of the jacket and you terminate all connectivity. By using the pocket as an off switch you make mobile communication a bit more tangible, there is something very satisfactory about being angry and throwing your phone in your pocket to end a call. Bu [sic] using the principles of a Faradays cage the pocket is effectively blocking all radio frequency waves. An NFC chip embedded in the fabric turns of the phones [sic] antenna to save you that precious battery time."
Remember back when I wrote about Chris Ziegler's idea of implementing the reserve switch from a motorcycle gas tank in smartphone battery technology? You could always simply add more juice to the cell powering the phone, but having to physically flip a switch instills the sense of urgency in a user, telling them to find a plug STAT.
Johansson's Escape jacket is not unlike that idea, it's just applied to a different concept. Instead of creating an urgency to stay connected, the Escape jacket embraces the peace and quiet that comes from a short disconnect. You can power your phone down, turn on Airplane Mode or just silence it and flip it over. Or you can do it much more tangibly by placing it in the pocket of a jacket designed to temporarily relieve and disconnect you from all the stressors of your life. Not everyone is going to like the idea, but count me in. "Shut up and take my money," as they say.
Unfortunately, this is just a design or concept. As far as I can tell, Johansson hasn't produced the Escape jacket on a large scale. And if he does, there is no telling what it would cost.
Lucky for you DIYers, you can give virtually any pocket-bearing article of clothing you own similar function, so long as your phone is equipped with NFC. (Sorry, future iPhone 5 users! You can try lining the inside of a jacket with a Faraday cage if you like.) As I explained a few months ago, it's not very difficult to acquire a few programmable NFC tags on the Internet. And if you have an inkling of programming knowledge, you should be able to figure out how to program an NFC tag to switch Airplane Mode on for you. Attach it to a key chain, sew it to the inside pocket of your favorite jacket or attach it to the inside of your favorite belt so you can tap it before pocketing your phone.
As a side note, it's nice to see NFC being used in so many different ways. And I can't wait to see it being used in more places for bizarre things.
What do you think of the Escape jacket, folks? Is it something you could see yourself using? Or do you prefer to just turn your phone off or flip on Airplane Mode? How much would you pay for a jacket like this?