Supposedly, changing a phone’s display to only show a drab grayscale tends to reduce the amount of time that the phone’s owner spends fiddling around on the Internet.
Here’s a simple software-only hack that would make people more aware of the amount of time they’re spending on their phones, and might give them some extremely minimal exercise as well.
The system is simple: the user’s phone starts off colorful and vibrant, but over a period of a few minutes, the contrast is reduced until the phone is a dull uniform gray. The user must shake their phone a bit (like one of those rechargeable flashlights) to “shake” the color back into the phone (Figure 1).
This can be implemented entirely in software, and could be a cool and trendy “phone use mindfulness” mode. Unfortunately, since installing system-wide changes like this to phones is heavily locked down, it’s likely that only a phone manufacturer would actually have the ability to deploy a system like this at any scale.
PROS: This could be accomplished with the existing functionality on phones: it requires no additional hardware!
CONS: Would probably increase the number of dropped phones.