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This new product called the Phonekerchief is meant to be wrapped around your phone during a romantic dinner to show your respect for your dining partner. $15 at Uncommon Goods starting Nov 25:

We may be sitting at the same table, but we are not together: a common condition of our over-wired world. It is time to question what truly nurtures the human spirit. The Phonekerchief is a polite way of encouraging others to turn off their phones and helps jump start new etiquette for our digital world. The Phonekerchief is made of a smart material that blocks phone signals and can be worn in any pocket as a symbol of this movement.

Ok, I’ll agree wrapping your phone in a cloth more concretely symbolizes your dedication to in-person conversation than, say, putting your phone on silent or airplane modes. The down side is that when your phone isn’t receiving signal (on the subway, in an elevator, or in a Phonekerchief), it boosts its output to try to reach a repeater, which drains your battery faster. LessEMF carries fabrics that shield EMF in the cell phone (800-2500 Mhz band) range in case you want to make your own Faraday hanky.

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Becky Stern

Becky Stern

Becky Stern (sternlab.org is a DIY guru and director of wearable electronics at Adafruit. She publishes a new project video every week and hosts a live show on YouTube. Formerly Becky was Senior Video Producer for MAKE. Becky lives in Brooklyn, NY and belongs to art groups Free Art & Technology (“release early, often, and with rap music”) and Madagascar Institute (“fear is never boring”).


  • Sci

    It’s a cute looking idea, but why not just turn your phone off? (Rather than wrapping it in an EM-shield that’ll make the phone ramp up it’s transmitter to compensate and run the battery flat as a result?)

    • Sci

      So yeah, basically agreeing with the OP.

  • Simon

    How about just not taking your phone? You know, say you’ll pick your date up at 8 and actually be on time then give them your full attention.

    An engineer friend of mine always says it is a pity mobile phones seem to have become the highest interrupt.

    Personally, I’ve stopped carrying one these days. They are very occasionally useful but more generally annoying (people at work with LOUD ring-tones), intrusive, distracting, an excuse for being late (“oh, it’s ok if I’m late – I’ll txt you”), and just another piece of bumf I really don’t need to carry about.

    On the other hand it’s always useful to carry a handkerchief!

  • migpics

    This obviously calls for a ‘My Phone is Off For You’ app.

  • George Dundas

    Wrapping a phone in a kercheif, silent, airplane mode? You do realize that there is always the option to turn the damn thing off, right? Also turning the phone off aside from having tremendous results in your love life it saves the battery and money as well, helping you live greener in more than one way. Hmm.. now who would have thought of such a crazy solution to such a perplexing problem.

  • Anonymous

    So, I don’t get it. Does this phonekercheif block signals or is it just a handerchief with a little message written on it? If it actually blocks cell phone transmit and recieve signals that’s great, especially since some many people are becoming conscious of their privacy being invaded.

    Maybe someone could explain.

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  • http://www.am4a.org Carl de Cordova

    I tried to buy one today but the link on the youtube video took me to a online store that has been sold out for what looks like a year. :-(

  • Emily

    It also makes sure you aren’t tracked.