Knoxville start-up company launching smart box to limit cell phone distractions

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) – We’ve all seen it, or done it – people doing an activity with their friends while being glued to their cellphones. That’s why a new Knoxville company is aiming to help people enjoy less screen time and more real life.

The company’s name is Aro, and they’ve created an app and a smart box for your smartphone to help keep distractions away.

The smart box and the app are designed to help you live life uninterrupted. When you want to fully disconnect from social media and emails, you can place your cell phone inside the box, close the lid, and walk away.

Joey Odom, a Co-Founder of Aro said the idea for the box started really ramping up during the pandemic.

“We started with this cardboard box that we have back here, and we put our phones in there,” explained Odom. “It was helpful, but the problem was we really didn’t have a, call it a reminder or companion or something to nudge us all the time. So we said, what if we built an app that tracked that time? And by the way, what if we fully built out that tech?”

Odom said the company isn’t shaming people for using their phones but encouraging others to be more conscious.

“You’re able to notice – whether that’s someone across the table from you in a conversation, whether that’s a feeling you’re having inside you, or the beautiful words of a novel. But what we want to do as a company is inspire people and help them remove the distractions that get in the way of being able to notice what’s going on around us,” shared Odom.

While inside the smart box, the Aro app will track the amount of time you spend away from your phone and also keep track of how you spent that time away, providing a twist on other apps currently out.

“It’s kind of the opposite of the screentime report we all get from Apple on Sundays that said how much time you have been on your phone, this shows how much time you have been in intentionally away from your phone, and then you can categorize it . ‘Oh, I spent four hours with my family today; I spent two hours reading.’ All of this is around the science of habit formation which is what we are trying to do,” said Odom.

Your cellphone can even charge while inside the Aro box.

Pre-orders are now available for the Aro smart box. The starting price for them is $350. Odom said he knows that’s a premium price, but due to the state of the supply chain, things are more expensive to produce.

To pre-order or to find out more about the Aro smart box, click here.

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