New iPhone’s ‘trypophobic’ design disturbs people with a fear of holes

The Pro and Pro Max phones feature three camera lenses.

Apple unveiled its new iPhone models on Tuesday — but while some tech fans applauded the new phones’ design and specifications and others weighed in on their pricing, another feature has caught the eye of trypophobia sufferers everywhere.

The Pro and Pro Max phones feature three camera lenses. And while the design is likely to appeal to photography fans, some social media users say it is triggering their trypophobia — an intense, irrational fear of small holes and clusters of circles and bumps, such as those in a honeycomb, lotus flower or bubble bath.

Research into trypophobia is limited. Geoff Cole, a visual scientist at the University of Essex in the UK, told CNN that while it might seem “a little bit odd” for people to feel uncomfortable at the sight of holes clustered together, for people with trypophobia, the images can cause a range of reactions, with varying levels of severity.

According to research from the University of Essex, “the phobia arises in part because the inducing stimuli share basic visual characteristics with those of dangerous organisms.”

Trypophobic images generally display “high (color) contrast at mid-range spatial frequencies” — cycling from bright to dark three or four times per centimeter, seen at arm’s length — and have a “very unique spectral composition (brightness and contrast), something you don’t see in the natural world — except in poisonous animals,” Cole told CNN.

Cole said his research had shown that 16% of the UK’s adult population found the image of a lotus seed pod — considered a typical trypophobic image — “uncomfortable or repulsive to look at.”

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