Yondr founder shares origins of locking device for phones

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- We first reported on Yondr's cellphone "lock up" earlier this week. The special cases seem to be a solution for a problem a lot of schools face.

So we went to Yondr's founder on Wednesday to find out what inspired this product and learned it was born far from the classroom, in nightclubs, concert venues and theaters where the people on stage deserve your undivided attention.

You actually don't need a password to attend a performance at the "Speak Easy" an immersive theater in San Francisco's North Beach District. But you will need to put your cellphone on lockdown, inside this Yondr case.

VIDEO: San Mateo High School goes phone-free, largest public school in the country to do it
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When students got their textbooks at the beginning of the year at San Mateo High School, they also received the Yondr pouch, a locking device for their phones

"We needed to take away that accidental compulsion, that accidental risk and just remove it completely," said Nick Olivero of Speak Easy.

Once the phone is inside it will automatically lock. You're always in possession of your phone. Once outside, you tap the unlocking base and you can retrieve your phone.

Graham Dugoni founded Yondr in 2014 with on-stage performers in mind.

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"You can't really document and experience it at the same time. It's not how it really works. I think people know that and maybe this is a small way for them to see it," explained Dugoni.

Well-known comedian Dave Chappelle uses Yondr cases to create a phone-free zone. San Francisco comedian Marga Gomez understands why.

"It's like look at me. The only time I'm OK with people taking their cameras out is when they want to tweet Marga Gomez is killing it tonight," said Gomez.

Schools are using it to keep students more engaged and active in the playground instead of using their phones. Schools like San Mateo High pay $15 per student a year.

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The California Academy of Sciences recently required that everyone attending a special "NightLife" event put their phones in one of these cases.

"I think people just wanted to connect more. It was a very 'freeing' event to not have your phone for four hours. It actually felt like a nice break," said Cate Van Dyke of the Academy of Sciences.

In the end people left with a sticker that read "I Survived Analog NightLife."
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