People are often glued to their cell phones at all times, thanks primarily to the ease of finding an amusing distraction on the Internet.
There have been various proposals to mitigate the scourge of “phone addiction,” for example, setting your phone screen to black-and-white / grayscale in order to reduce its appeal (https://www.google.com/search?q=set+phone+to+black+and+white).
However, no proposal currently tackles the problem by making the phone-unlock process a mentally-taxing exercise.
In order to unlock your phone, you have to solve some sort of vaguely challenging puzzle, or perhaps learn a new fact about the world.
For example, to unlock your phone:
- You must win or tie a game of Tic-Tac-Toe (Figure 1). Your AI opponent could just make moves randomly, so that it isn’t always a tie.
- You must win a game of Go against the phone. This could take substantially longer than the Tic-Tac-Toe example; perhaps decades or more.
An alternative approach would be to attempt to educate the phone user in some way (Figures 2 and 3).
Alternative proposal that would help you maintain social connections:
Instead of requiring you to solve a puzzle, the phone could require you to send a message to a friend you haven’t talked to in a while, or call someone on their birthday. This synergizes well with the amazing not-yet-real app Friend Neglectr.
PROS: Combats phone addition AND enriches your life at the same time.
CONS: People would probably try to unlock their phones while driving, and having to read an entire chapter from “War and Peace” on a 5-inch screen would probably greatly increase the risk of a catastrophic car accident.