We tried instituting a rule against checking phones during dinner, but no one got the text. The inability to set down a phone for even a moment is totally unthinkable for a majority of people: 60 percent admit to checking their phones every hour and 30 percent obsessively check them during meals with other people.
But an experimental new product wants to get you off your phone and reengaged with your dining companions. Behold the Napkin Table. Part table, part blanket, part bib, the Napkin Table comes from industrial design students in Taiwan, and tries to push users away from their electronic appendages by keeping the table elevated at a level higher than is comfortable for smartphone usage. Wearing a napkin table makes it extremely difficult to look at a phone: You have to slide it out of your pocket, cock your elbow out and hold it awkwardly near your forehead. All that movement seems impossible without toppling the food to the ground.
Michael Jan, the inventor of the Napkin Table, says that it is not designed to completely solve the problem of ignoring people during dinner in favor of Instagram feeds and Facebook likes, but it is an experiment aimed at making us all reflect on the phenomenon. That said, those reflections will probably be shared in 140 characters or fewer.
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