A View from John Pavlus
Silence Smart Phones at Thanksgiving Dinner with a Foldable Faraday Cage
The “phonekerchief,” which blocks cell phone signals, might be the ultimate 21st century Thanksgiving place setting.
Faraday cages are not anyone’s idea of bleeding-edge tech–they were invented in 1836. But as we all brace ourselves for Thanksgiving family dinners rendered even more awkward by buzzing iPhones and texting teenagers, the signal-blocking “phonekerchief” may be a tech accessory whose time has come.
The idea is simple, according to designer Ingrid Zweifel: the phonekerchief weaves ultrafine metal threads into a normal hankie to create a “soft Faraday cage” around your Crackberry or iTeat, snuffing out its wireless connection and letting everyone at the table know you care more about enjoying their company than checking in to Grandma’s house on Foursquare.
Couldn’t you just nag everyone to turn their phones off? Yes. But that doesn’t make quite the same discreet-yet-formal statement for a special occasion with family, does it? Imagine a whole table set with fine silverware atop primly folded phonekerchiefs at every place setting. Why, it’d be a scene right out of Norman Rockwell, if social-norm-stunting internet pucks were commonplace in his day.
In any case, “Fun With Faraday Cages” has become a regular geek cottage industry, so it’s nice to see someone using them for the powers of good (ie, politeness at the table), rather than yet another rendition of the Dr. Who theme song played on Tesla coils.
Become an MIT Technology Review Insider for in-depth analysis and unparalleled perspective.Subscribe today