Basically, they create “phoneless areas” for concerts (as well as other events, but mainly concerts) by locking them away. The smart bit is that they’re not stockpiled somewhere (which would be way too tempting for thieves etc.) Instead, they’re put in a pouch that locks, and the phone stays with the owner.
If the phone is really needed, there are unlock-stations outside the concert area, so the bag can be unlocked and the phone used.
But – as per the article, and as per my own experience – people in general are fucking lazy, and even that extra effort of moving twenty yards to unlock the phone to use it is more than most can be bothered to do. And so those people stay in place, watch the concert (or whatever) and aren’t distracted by their phones.
I’ve griped (on several occasions) about concerts now where more people seem to be filming the gig through their phones than actually watching it and how distracting that is for those who actually want to see the performance (although Yondr won’t fix the other issues mentioned there of people constantly chatting to their mates while the show is on, or keep going to the bar etc.) and this seems like a really good way of reducing that desire.
Yondr don’t say how much their service costs to install – I assume it’s not going to be cheap – but I really do hope it’s something that both venues and artists support and promote. I know I’d be more likely to go to a gig/venue that was ‘phones-free’…