At this point, most people are slaves to their smartphone. I attribute this observation as a transitional phase of humans picking up new habits which, as with many changes in history, is hard to accept as the future. Just think of the time when digital camera was introduced. Back then, some photographers had their hands up in the air with comments like “are those even real cameras?” But as time has proven, digital imaging is the future and not an option. I think you get the idea.
However, being a diverse world, it is only natural that not everyone can come to term with this inevitable future and while some individuals exercise self-restraint when using smartphones, some folks banded together to do something about it, like creating gadgets that will counter this phenomena of ‘connected to only be disconnected’. Siempo, an Oakland, California-based startup is one such company. The outfit has developed a smartphone that will not become your master while still allowing you to stay connected. Well, albeit in a very minimal way.
The secret sauce of Siempo’s first offering is not so much of the hardware, but in the OS which is essentially a very minimal version of Google’s Android OS, and that, my friends, is what impresses me. Instead of fancy UI, Siempo runs everything off a nondescript home screen with a “intentions” bar that is pretty much the key to all the phone’s features.
For example, if you type in a person’s name, it will bring up matches from your contact and once the contact is selected or narrowed down to just one, the OS presents you with two options below to allow you to either text or call the contact. At this point, you don’t even need to hit chose text messaging; you just proceed to compose your message and immediately, the call option disappears, leaving only the “Send as SMS.” And typing any random text on the “intentions” bar will present you with options like Send as SMS or Save as Note, or Create new contact.
Those are two examples how simple the stripped down Android OS will be. Siempo’s proposition saves you the hassle of swiping through pages of UI to get to what you need which means less distraction. Distraction is further eliminated by limiting to a few essential apps, like SMS, voice call, “restrained” email or web browser, Google Maps, Google Calendar, photos, camera, alarm et cetera. The OS will be void of popular social media apps like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and such. Hell, it don’t even have an app store to begin with and there’s no option to download other third-party service either, so you will not be distracted from your physical reality.
But Siempo is not all authoritarian. Siempo will eventually expand the device capabilities and open up to third-party apps, but those have to meet the company’s anti-attention philosophy. Speaking of anti-attention, there’s a dedicated button on the side device that allow you to put Siempo to “pause,” preventing notifications from bothering you for a set period of time while letting select contacts to reach out to you. Further options to allow for batch notifications so your phone won’t be constantly buzzing, or allow for snoozing certain notifications.
Finally, there’s the “mindful morning” function which is essentially a do not disturb period you set so you can get to work on, well, mindful activities, of course. As you can see, Siempo is a software-orientated device and hence, the hard spec is not exactly its forte. That said, Siempo is expected to be powered by an unspecified 1GHz quadcore processor, back by an undisclosed amount of RAM, has at least 8GB internal flash storage, and equipped with a 4-inch “high-resolution” display.
It will also get standards like WiFi with hotspot feature, Bluetooth, GPS and NFC, along with a modest 1,600 mAh battery with fast charging support. And oh yes. Camera. About that, it has an unspecified camera on the back. That’s it. No shooter at the front. I guess being narcissistic is a distraction too, huh? Perhaps. Siempo’s “the phone for humans” is now on Kickstarter, seeking to raise a cool $500k to get it into production. If you believe in Siempo’s vision and think Siempo’s proposition is inline with your ideal lifestyle, then you may want to join the handful of backers in making it a reality. Prices range from $279-349, depending on how soon you back it.
Animated GIFs via Business Insider.