Are you looking to cultivate a “more civilized relationship with your digital life?” Then Runcible might be for you. This electronic device almost defies description. It’s completely round, deliciously tactile and fits into the palm of your hand. Its creators, Berkely-based Monohm Inc., define it as the world’s “first anti-smartphone” – anti, because the gadget is meant to actually detach you from the complete and invasive connectivity we all live in, marked by the constant distracting buzz of texts, emails, status updates and other alerts.
“Runcible will never beep, alert, or otherwise interrupt you.” It will, instead bring people back to the real world with a sense of wonder, and “let them control their digital lives in clean, quiet, simple ways,” according to Aubrey Anderson, CEO and co-founder of Monohm. How does Runcible accomplish that? It’s not entirely evident. What is clear it that it’s basically a phone and camera, and allows for zero apps. It is built on top of Mozilla’s Open Source Firefox OS. You just get simple interfaces and, for instance, a curated maps program that provides you with the “the most interesting route to a destination versus the fastest.” Its mode is discovery and bringing back a sense of humanity in a digital world.
Aside from that, it’s a bit like an heirloom timepiece you carry in your pocket, or a magic rock. At least that’s what its makers were thinking of when they dreamed up this elegant but odd little gadget with its moniker that sounds like a fairy-tale creature (an alchemist’s crucible meets Rapunzel). In its intentional simplicity, it does have a certain magical, compelling aura that draws you in.
Also, Runcible, unlike smartphones which get replaced as new models come around, will never become obsolete. It is meant for eternity, as in forever (OK, their “100 year plan”), like a precious pocket watch you inherited from your grandfather’s grandfather. This is possible because its parts can be repaired and upgraded.
So what is Runcible? We think “a new category of personal electronic which occupies a space between a traditional mobile phone and a wearable device” still doesn’t quite fulfill our need for concreteness. But maybe that’s quite intentional, part of the wonderment it’s supposed to instill. Practical? Maybe not. An elegant toy for those of us longing for simplicity? Possibly! We’re not sure we like it, but we very much like the idea of it. It’s available for pre-order (price not revealed yet) at mono.hm/runcible.html.