Snapchat's Smartphone Case Proves Trends are Cyclical
Funny how trends work, isn't it? Everything that was once old, outdated and uncool are now the most sought after items. Remember how people thought vinyl records were an antiquated medium after the birth of CDs and MP3’s?
Just about everyone you see on the street these days has a smartphone with a touch screen. Who uses a flip phone anymore?
But, weirdly enough, the nostalgia for the days of actual buttons seems to be making a comeback, if this new phone screen from the parent company at Snapchat and Columbia University is any indication.
CNN posted a few pictures of the prototype case, which is pretty customizable. Users can slide little buttons and dials into the back to do things like zoom in and out on the camera app, take a picture, etc.
“We are, as a species, very touchy and feely, and I think we want to be able to not just know that we touch something, but we also like he confirmation of something having happened,” Shree Nayar, director of Snap Research’s imaging-focused research lab told CNN.
It makes sense. People like to feel like they’re touching a real thing. You can’t get that tactile experience on a touchscreen.
What really makes this item feel like it’s from the Stone Age is that it doesn’t even incorporate any fancy Bluetooth or anything!
The case and mechanical widgets the researchers built contain no electronics, so neither Bluetooth nor cables help them communicate with the phone. Instead, they take advantage of what happens when you push a button or wind a rotary dial: your finger's force causes the smartphone to move slightly, and this motion can be picked up by the handset's built-in accelerometer and interpreted as an action by software on the phone.
Think about all the throwback video game systems that kids who were born decades after they came out are playing. We love nostalgia, even if it’s for something we never even experienced.
Unlike Snap’s other product, Spectacles (remember those?), you won’t see this smartphone case on the market just yet. But the fact that it’s being created as a prototype and kicked around as an idea says one thing:
People want what they don’t have, even if it’s something they might have had before. Everything that isn’t already in our hands is a novelty, even if it’s objectively less technologically advanced.