Anyone who's sick of going to a concert and seeing only cellphones should take heart: A new technology just showed up to save live music, and it's called Yondr.
The San Francisco-based service is sweeping local venues by offering legitimately cellphone-free zones. When entering the venue, concertgoers are given a slim case in which they place their phone. When the user enters the designated area, the case locks, preventing users from accessing their phones while in the venue. If users feel the phone vibrate, they can exit the no-phone region to regain access to their device and see what the buzz in their pocket was about.
And in the meantime, they'll stop alienating the performers and fans.
Yondr founder Graham Dugoni created Yondr after noticing the "peculiarly anti-social effect" cellphone overuse created in certain contexts.
"I have always thought it's simply not possible to fully experience something and be documenting/broadcasting it at the same time," Dugoni wrote in an email to Mic. "Live shows are about being swept up into a shared mood. That shared mood can't really be captured or broadcasted as it is being lived. When people try to, it pulls them out of the moment (however briefly) and fundamentally alters everyone's basic experience of the thing they are trying to capture in the first place."
That's scientifically proven to be the case. Fairfield University psychologist Linda Henkel told NPR that by relying on a cellphone camera to capture the show, you may as well be outsourcing your memory.
"Anytime we kind of count on these external memory devices, we're taking away from the kind of mental cognitive processing that might help us actually remember that stuff on our own," she said.
Audiences aren't the only people who suffer from cellphone usage, either. Many performers are so fed up with the preoccupation that they're taking their own stands. All-American Rejects frontman Tyson Ritter destroyed a fan's iPad by throwing it on the floor at a 2012 concert, and Jack White told Conan O'Brien he doesn't want cellphones at his performances so everybody can "just enjoy this with our eyes and ears." And in August, veteran performer Peter Frampton threw a particularly obnoxious fan's cellphone, which he later referred to in a Facebook post as "[relieving] someone, in the front row, of their phone/camera."
And then of course there's Glenn Danzig:
There's a real need for Yondr, then. On the company's spare site, Yondr shares their mission statement: "Yondr has a simple purpose: to show people how powerful a moment can be when we aren't focused on documenting or broadcasting it."
Dugoni has the drive of a man on that mission. "We are currently in talks with multiple 500-750 person venues," he wrote by email.
This isn't just about moving a product. As comedian Louis C.K. explained it: "You need to build an ability to just be yourself and not be doing something. That's what the phones are taking away, is the ability to just sit there. That's being a person." That's what Yondr's trying to do.