How to: Block your smartphone’s signal without turning it off

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This one is actually more about etiquette and good manners than hi-tech, but it does involve a smart accessory – a phonekerchief. It is a small piece of cloth with nice design that blocks cell phone signals.

The idea behind the tech accessory is quite simple: the phonekerchief is a simple cloth with ultrafine silver threads in it, which create a Faraday cage around your smartphone, irrespective of the brand, be it iPhone or BlackBerry, or any regular to high-end Android. Faraday Cage was invented in 1836, but this implementation is something ingeniously simple and yet, new.

Phonekerchief blocks your smartphone from any wireless connection displaying a polite “My Phone is Off for You” message for everyone present at the meeting, or family gathering.

Why would you want to use it? For one, think about business meetings and presentations, when you cannot avoid turning your phone off. How many times did you forget to turn it on afterwards? With phonekerchief, you cut your phone off when you need it to remain silent while when the meeting is over, you simply fold the cloth and recover your connectivity.

Think about family gatherings, when teenagers are glued to their smartphones, and husbands are sort of on urgent calls and messages from the office (on a Thanksgiving night, really?). It may be a nice idea just to ask everyone to shut the devices down and have a nice family dinner, sharing, re-connecting and being human, not droids, benefiting the relationships and family bonds. If you put phonekerchiefs on the table, you display a smart compromise: everyone blocks their phones at the table while being free to text, call and browse afterwards.

I am not saying this accessory is going to be widely adopted, but it may make a fine St.Valentine’s Day gift for your loved ones. It would also convey the clear and concise message: “Honey, I love you, but your phone habits are driving me nuts.”

The smart cloth is on sale at uncommongoods exclusively, with a price tag of $15. The reported downside is so far only one – the missed calls are not recorded unless the caller leaves a message.