Research project, ECAL 2020


Smartphone Peripheral Companions 

Over the last decade, smartphones have radically changed our behaviour, our means of communication and our attention. The research project Smartphone Peripheral Companions explores new forms of interaction with the data flows passing through our smartphone, questioning the status of total object that this device has acquired. So much of contemporary culture and interactions is taking place through interfaces; interfaces are part of cultural expression and participation. Therefore, questioning the impact of the mechanisms underlying current smartphone interfaces is also a societal interest.
The research team conducted a number of reflections around a broad vision of the issues related to the use of smartphones and the data flows that pass through them. In order to also collect contributions from smartphone users, they set up an online participatory platform, voluntarily moving away from the usual form of the scientific questionnaire.
By imagining, designing and prototyping new objects or apparatuses, this project aims to offer proposals for re-appropriation, re-extraction of certain features locked in the smartphone, thereby allowing a different, more customizable access to data or functions. Consequently, fostering a shift from the glowing rectangle to a more detached and focused interaction, away from the screen. 
The main results of the project include a series of 5 to 10 objects offering alternative access to some data transiting through the smartphone. These semi-functional prototypes are documented and presented as images and films on the project website as well as made available for exhibition. A kit of tools and instructions to reproduce some of them, together with an ever-growing, participative collection of anonymous testimonies from smartphone is also accessible online.


Main applicant

ECAL/University of Art and Design Lausanne
Alain Bellet (project leader)

Research team 
Lison Christe (research assistant) 
Martin Hertig  (research assistant) 
Marius Aeberli 
Cédric Duchêne 
Andreas Sonderegger 

Visiting lecturer
Jesse Howard

Antoine Barras, Maya Bellier, Pablo Bellon, Margaux Charvolin, Ivan Chestopaloff, Bastien Claessens, Yoann Douillet, Guillaume Giraud, Emily Groves, Léonard Guyot, Evan Kelly, Lisa Kishtoo, Kylan Luginbühl, Élise Migraine, Paul Lëon, Aurélien Pellegrini, Hélène Portier, Pierre-Xavier Puissant, Yaël Sidler, Diane Thouvenin



September 2018 – February 2020

Supported by 
ECAL/University of Art and Design Lausanne
Strategic fund of the University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland (HES-SO RCDAV)


ECAL/Antoine Barras, Guillaume Giraud

© ECAL/Lison Christe

LIA - Leave It Alone

ECAL/Bastien Classens, Léonard Guyot
© ECAL/Lison Christe


ECAL/Paul Lëon, Diane Thouvenin

© ECAL/Lison Christe