stereoPHONEic & textDIAL

Master’s Thesis

Initially grounded in the real-world problem of increasingly rapid mobile phone obsolescence, my research subsequently adopted hacking, performance and critical design and culminated in two interactive projects: stereoPHONEic and textDIAL. They demonstrate ways to repurpose so-called obsolete rotary dial telephones, combining them with other available technologies, and even human beings at times, to make them function just like smartphones.

stereoPHONEic is a portable music player. The shoulder-mounted handset conveniently positions stereo speakers behind each ear. The dial provides track selection, volume control, pause/resume and stop functions.

textDIAL is a prototype for sending and receiving text messages using the limited affordances of rotary dial phones. To send a message, lift the handset, listen to the instructions, compose your message using the four rotary phone dials and dial SEND when ready. To receive a message when the phone rings, lift the handset and listen to your incoming message read from an overseas call centre.

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More than a piece of hardware you can hold in your hand, the project viewed the mobile phone as a network of infrastructure and service providers, as seen in this early concept sketch.

Really smart phone concept sketch
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Additionally, the mobile phone is a set of behaviours. I field tested stereoPHONEic and textDIAL by hitting the streets with them, performing everyday smartphone activities in everyday places. The results can be seen in the video below.

stereoPHONEic and textDIAL video

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Made with rotary dial telephones, Arduino Nano, MP3 shield, Processing, leather, laser cut acrylic, stainless steel service cart