Pioneering Smartphone Designer Develops Upgradable Handset To Cut Waste

18-09-13(7)picA Dutch designer has created a conceptual customisable smartphone that can upgraded and improved to help reduce the number of mobile phone handsets going to waste.

Dave Hakkens, the mastermind behind “Phonebloks”, has innovated the use of “modular elements” that can be replaced once they become obsolete. This means that, instead of buying a new phone, the user would simply remove part of the phone and substitute it for something of better quality, for example a camera with higher resolution or a screen with increased clarity.

The phone works in a similar way to a Lego model, in that different sections can be added together easily in order to create something personalised to the individual owner. The concept also means that the user will not be limited to choosing the phone’s accessories from just one company; the phone could theoretically have a camera designed by a specialist company, for example Nikon, a screen created by LG and a processor produced by Intel.

Hakkens admits that, while he believes the concept to be viable, setting up the platform “is simply too big for one company.” He acknowledges that to push the project forward he needs to gather partners that can work together to produce components, adding that he is hopeful of third parties developing bloks for the platform that can then be put on a “blokstore”, which will work in a similar fashion to the apps stores found on Android or iPhone devices.

Speaking on his website, Hakkens said: “The market of electronic devices is growing rapidly, but it feels like we are building disposable stuff. Every time we make something new we completely throw away the old one. Imagine all the good displays, bluetooths and speakers we have thrown away. I love the connected world that we live in and it’s time to set up a universal modular platform that companies work on together.

“A phone lasts a couple of years before it breaks or becomes obsolete. Although it’s often just one part that killed it, we throw everything away because it’s almost impossible to repair or upgrade. Phoneblok is made of detachable “bloks”. The bloks are connected to the base which locks everything together into a solid phone. If a blok breaks you can easily replace it; if it’s getting old, just upgrade.”


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