Meet Block: luxury that helps you break away from your phone

Sidney Vollmer
Nov 14, 2016 · 4 min read
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Block. Photo by Bart Oomes — bartoomes.org

Today, we’re introducing BLOCK, at meetblock.com. It’s a beautifully designed case that helps you break away from your phone.

Woop woop, indeed.

The case is made from a single piece of aluminium that functions as a Faraday cage. It can store up to six smartphones and safely blocks all connections, helping you reconnect with family and friends, get things done, or just switch off for a moment.

(This makes Block the perfect product for people that value their privacy, too.)

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About a year ago, Fabian Sapthu and me joined forces with Daan van Dam, Ernst Koning, Bas van de Poel to introduce this piece of awesomeness into the world. They had a prototype, we had some connections, together we could kick some post-digital ass.

It has been quite a ride.

For me personally, a great follow up, too, to the 2BelminutenStilte campaign we launched May 4th, inviting everyone to switch off their phones for two minutes during our National Commemoration:

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Back to Block, as Amy would say.

Our team loves their smartphones. But they’re rarely more than a meter away. Its nearness has become ubiquitous, leading to a wide variety of problems on a personal, psychological and social level.

The time is right to introduce an elegant solution that puts some distance between ourselves and our smartphones.

Block was extensively tested in T-Mobile’s laboratories, in close vicinity to the latest and most powerful antennas. All of that (and more) would not have been possible without the help of T-Mobile’s Future Lab, and Ewout Karel in particular.

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meetblock.com

Why did we make Block?

You can probably relate to occasionally feeling agitated or stressed out by the digital devices around you. We feel the urge to constantly check, swipe, update, like, too.

As Ian Bogost has persuasively written: mobile phones, especially smartphones, have not been designed to call with. They have been primarily designed to be carried around. Bogost, when speaking about ye old classic telephone, the Bell 500:

Whether grasped at its center like a handle, cradled at the rounded mouthpiece base with the thumb and forefinger, or wedged between the ear and the shoulder to allow the use of both hands freely, the 500 handset conforms to the ergonomics required for listening and speaking.

It sounds like an idiotic tautology of an observation, until you think about cell phones by comparison. The mobile phone in general and the smartphone in particular are designed to be carried first, and spoken into second.

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This is where Block comes in. Though it seems we collectively begin to suspect that that very specific and constant need to fiddle with our phones is a bad one, us at Block think we could do with some more infrastructure that helps facilitate the disconnect, creating more balance in the process.

(Sidenote: a powerful and fascinating read on these matters has recently been published by Andrew Sullivan: “I used to be a human being”. I urge you to give it a try)

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Get it while it’s hot.

It took eleven months to produce Block: iterations on the design, developing and testing materials, producing prototypes, altering production processes, finding the right partners. We now feel we have it nailed.

So we’re anxious to bring this lil’ thing to the next level. You can pre-order one (or seventy five hundred) at meetblock.com.

They’ll last a life time. (Jeej science!)

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Block. Photo by Bart Oomes — bartoomes.org

Lastly, a big THANK YOU to the team that made this possible: Fabian Sapthu, Daan van Dam, Ernst Koning, Bas van de Poel and Ewout Karel (T-Mobile).

Sidney Vollmer.

ps. For more on these matters, check out my (Dutch) podcast Digitalisme on ethics and digital technology, or put my next book On/Off, to be published February 2017 by Nijgh and Van Ditmar, on your wish list!

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