• Son Luu

Absurdism Inspired Phone Add-on Device

Updated: Feb 20, 2020

Class: Designing the Absurd

Instructor: Pedro Oliveira


Prompt: Prototype a phone add-on device/object

Project Team: Son Luu and Chenhe Zhang


Before our team started ideating on potential phone add-on devices, we reflected on absurd thinking approach to problem solving and reviewed some of the well known Chindogu inspired products . A few things that came to mind:

1. Many Chindogu products are created for solving our very everyday practical problems, big or small.

2. Combination of unexpected objects with completely different functions/features, simply for solving a problem as long as it works.

3. Simple, straightforward design, not over-engineered, not overthinking, using what's available, not about technology, as long as it works.

Next, we discussed what can be considered a phone add-on as opposed to an accessory.

Although we didn't necessarily come up a widely accepted definition for an add-on to a phone, we both agreed that the add-on should be a device that has its own independent functionality, and doesn't necessarily enhance the function of a cell-phone.

An example is a cell-phone case. A cell-phone case is an accessory that serves the purpose of protecting the phone. Without the phone, the case would be of no use.

On the other hand, some thing like a portable fan that can be powered from a cellphone can be seen as an add-on. It is an independent device, regardless of its existence with or without the phone and doesn't really enhance the functionality of the mother device as a phone.


Based on the above discussion, we cam up with several ideas

- An elastic band attached to a phone case that can be used for the convenience of work-out anywhere, any time, and can also be a phone's shoulder trap

- A walking stick that can be extended from a phone for the elders

- A phone charger that is also a shelf and a night lamp

- A facial cleaning brush that is attached to the phone

- A facial vibrating massager that is attached to the phone

- A thermometer that is attached to the phone

- A toothbrush that is attached to the phone

- A ruler that measures the exact distance for taking portrait-mode photos with the iPhone

- An eye-mask that is attached to the phone

- A guitar pick - music holder device attached to the phone

We decided to go with a phone case that has an elastic fitness band in the back to serve as a compact workout device for people who wants a quick and convenient exercise anywhere and any time without carrying workout equipment.

How is the device powered?

The device will not need any power to operate. It will only need a convenient and compact form design to be securely attached to the phone and operate safely for the users.

We sketched more options to secure the elastic band to the phone case.

After going over several different ideas of how to secure the band to the phone case, we reminded ourselves of not over-engineering, but instead using what is available, to create a simple and functional mechanism that serves the purpose. As a result, what we decided was to simply use a rubber band that is cost effective and readily available on the case to hold the elastic band in place when it is not in use.

An interesting side function of this rubber band is that, when the elastic band is in use, it can be flipped onto the front of the phone to hold the phone in place while user is exercising. This is an interesting and useful feature, as securing the phone during workout was a feedback we received from a user test.


We designed a new phone case that allows the elastic band to be attached to it. The phone cases were modeled in Blender and 3D printed.

To polish the product, we spent a large amount of time to sand down the surface, to give the exterior a smoother finish.

Next is giving the phone case some colors with spray-paint. Giving it another hour, we were ready to attach the elastic bands to these cases and testing them out.

Pin-up Board

Finished Products

Feedback Dashboard

Below is a dashboard that shows our peers' feedback based on 4 criteria: thinking, form, function, and interaction.

Our peers were asked to put a dot at a position on the 2 axis to reflect how they feel about the product on a spectrum where: near the center means closer to "normal", and further away from the center means closer to "absurd".

On all aspects of the product, ww can see that how people feel are quite spread out across the spectrums. This reflects the comments are subjective and how people feel about our product is quite personal to everyone.

However, if we want to take a closer look, we can see that there are many who think our product idea is quite "absurd" as well as in its form. On the other hand, how people feel about its function and interaction seem to be more evenly distributed.

Product Demo

In the following demo clips, we want to present the different everyday-life scenarios where potential users can make use of the phone with the fitness band attached to its back.

All a user needs to do is to carry their phone with them as they always do and the fitness band will be ready to serve as a portable workout device at hand.

The users of this product will be able to take advantage of any location, wasting no time to squeeze in a quick workout session conveniently and on a budget as they live their busy urban life.