Why Not A Build-Your-Own Mobile Phone?
Dutch designer Dave Hakkens admits he doesn't know how it would work, but his idea of Phonebloks -- easily-replaced parts that fit together "like Legos" to create a customized phone -- has gained considerable attention.
Kecia Lynn has worked as a technical writer, editor, software developer, arts administrator, summer camp director, and television host. A graduate of Case Western Reserve University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she is currently living in Iowa City and working on her first novel.
What's the Latest Development?
After a manufacturer recommended that he replace his entire camera rather than purchase a simple replacement part, Dutch designer Dave Hakkens began thinking about better, more user-friendly ways to create durable yet sustainable electronics. His answer: Phonebloks, each of which represents a single phone part -- screen, chipset, gyroscope, etc. -- and can be assembled to create a working mobile phone. Even better, if one part needs replacing, the user can quickly switch it out. A video Hakkens posted last month on Thunderclap attracted nearly a million supporters, and next week it will ping across multiple social networks.
What's the Big Idea?
It seems the more sophisticated electronics get, the harder it is to fix them easily, leading to considerable waste that is harmful to humans and the environment. While the idea of modular phones sounds appealing, several hurdles stand in the way, not the least of which is consumer preference for newer, smaller, slimmer phones. Hakkens himself admits the technical challenge inherent in creating a phone that can fit in a trouser pocket. "It's one of those things where if people look at it they say, 'Wow, I can be more ecologically sound, I get upgrades when I want to...' Then someone shows them that their phone's going to be six-tenths of an inch thick or something like that."
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