They don’t know a world without cell phones, but they’ve heard stories.
Drew Hendsbee and Danica Truong have been told of actual face-to-face interactions, meals not plagued by the incessant beeps, pings and rings of cell phones, but rather real conversation.
They want that.
The Grade 11 Chilliwack secondary students have developed a prototype of a miniature, vintage-style phone booth they believe will bring back interconnectedness.
The phone booth was created for their Grade 11 entrepreneurship class using 3D technology, borrowed from a school in Abbotsford. It features multiple vertical slots for cell phones to be stored.
The purpose: to get people to put their phones away even if only for a meal.
“We’re on our phones all the time… talking, texting, taking pictures,” said Hendsbee. “There’s no real face-to-face engagement anymore. We’re not getting to know people, we’re not taking the time to know them.”
With the phone booth, phones go into the booth and real conversation begins.
The idea developed after the students were asked in their entrepreneurship class to come up with a product they could sell. Hendsbee and Truong weren’t satisfied putting in the bare minimum. They wanted to develop something that could have a real impact.
“I know technology is so important, crucial, but there is nothing more important than [face-to-face] conversation,” said Hendsbee.
“We’re really just trying to bring people together – make people more important than their phones.”
The design started out as a flat box with a lid, but that proved too bulky. It wasn’t until Hendsbee eyed the decorative metal phone booth in her house that the light went off.
Not only was the design a perfect fit for what they were looking to do, the fact it was an old-fashioned phone booth tied in as well.
“Phone booths are so old fashioned and socializing is too,” said Truong.
The prototype is fashioned after a classic London-style phone booth. On the outside, instead of telephone printed at the top, it has cell phones. There’s also a picture on the side that looks as though it was taken straight from a 1950s ad with the slogan: Company is swell! Put in your cell!”
“Everything about it is old-fashioned,” said Hendsbee. “We really tried to capture that.”
To produce the phone booth, it took 30 hours in the 3D printer. The young partners are networking ways of mass-producing the product.
While pricing is still being worked out, the teens hope to attract restaurants with a vision that the phone booth would sit on the table for cell phones to be stored.
“We want to sell to restaurants and franchises that are already selling togetherness and embracing the aspect of being with people,” said Hendsbee.
Teacher Matt Ferris said the phone booth was by far the most creative project he’s seen in the years he’s been teaching the class.
“One of the major concerns we have in the community right now is disconnectedness and an overuse of cell phones,” he said. “They saw a problem and they came up with a fantastic solution.
“I think they can take this as far as they’d like it to go.”
For more information on the phone booths, email firstname.lastname@example.org.