Dave Hakkens thinks the way people currently buy electronics is inherently wasteful. As soon as a new device comes out, the old one is tossed in the garbage or put on the shelf to collect dust. But the Dutch designer wants to change that with a Lego-like device in which parts of the phone, not the entire device, can be replaced.
"Every time I got a new phone I threw away so many good components, all those bluetooths, speakers, displays I've thrown out over the years just because one other component is broken," Hakkens told the Huffington Post by email. "This felt like a real waste!"
So this week, Hakkens introduced his design for Phonebloks, a smartphone that has detachable components on its front and back so that everything from the processor to the camera can be easily upgraded without discarding the rest of the phone. The entire contraption is held together by a pegboard-style base, with a screen -- also replaceable -- mounted on the front.
There would be one block for the camera lens, one for the battery, one for storage and so on. Those blocks would plug into the base, and the blocks, base and screen would be secured together with two screws. Because individual blocks can be replaced when they become outdated or simply break, Hakkens thinks electronic waste can be drastically reduced with such a phone.
"I wanted to have a phone where I could keep the good parts and replace the bad ones," Hakkens told HuffPost. "Although the world of mobile phones is insanely complex I wanted to see if I could bring any help."
As Hakkens explains in his video outlining the device (below), the phone can be customized to your personal preferences. If you take a lot of pictures, pop in high-resolution camera. If you need a lot of storage for music, get a larger storage block. The hardware would be built on an open platform, so anyone can create their own blocks.
The idea has gotten a lot of coverage and online support since the video was put on YouTube on Tuesday, and Hakkens is a bit surprised by the reaction. "I figured it would get some exposure, but this is just stunning," he said. "So many wonderful mails, reaction and tweets!"
For now, Phoneblocks is just an idea, but Hakkens hopes the product can come to fruition. Using a service called Thunderclap, he is coordinating would-be Phonebloks enthusiasts to send out a message about the phone on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr on the same day, Oct. 29.
"Usually companies launch a product and consumers can buy it," Hakkens says. "I wanted to see if I could do it the other way around."
As of Wednesday, more than 81,000 people have signed up to send out this message. Hakkens will likely meet his goal of 100,000 people soon.
Watch the video for Phonebloks below:
Earlier on HuffPost:
Corning's 'A Day Made of Glass...'
Corning makes the super-strong "Gorilla Glass" that might cover your smartphone's touchscreen. (The company's customers include Samsung, Dell, Sony and LG). No wonder, then, that the glass manufacturer's vision of the future involves a lot of glass, and a lot of touchscreens on that glass. All touchscreens everywhere, shouts Corning! We shout: "Cool!"
Nokia Kinetic Device
Though <a href="http://events.nokia.com/nokiaworld/" target="_hplink">the Nokia World 2011 Conference</a> was held to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/26/nokia-lumia-800-videos_n_1032335.html" target="_hplink">announce the Finnish handset-maker's new Windows Phones</a>, a lot of the conversation from bloggers centered on Nokia's Kinetic Device, a prototype of a smartphone that was operated by bending and twisting (rather than pinching-to-zoom, which dominates today). <a href="http://www.engadget.com/2011/10/30/samsung-to-offer-flexible-displays-in-2012-challenges-nokia-to/" target="_hplink">Samsung recently announced</a> that it is preparing to release flexible devices in 2012; so, if you're in the market for a smartphone, get ready to twist again, like we will next year. Worth watching, if only to hear the adorable Nokia engineer proclaim, "I'M FROM FINLAND, AND WE HAVE LONG, CHILLY WINTER."
While we wish this video had been <a href="http://youtubedoubler.com/?video1=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch?feature%3Dplayer_embedded%26v%3Db3txQs7jEJ4&start1=&video2=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch?v%3D3ArhZPYplFk&start2=&authorName=gilbertjasono" target="_hplink">synced up with a certain unforgettable Ludacris single</a>, this concept laptop can roll out like paper towels, power supply and all.
After showing off that Kinetic Device at Nokia World 2011, Nokia <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/10/nokia-humanform-future-smartphone-video_n_1086517.html" target="_hplink">followed up with this thought-piece</a> of a video, which displayed a graphically-rendered futuristic smartphone called "HumanForm." Like the Kinetic Device, it emphasizes bends, twists and touch buttons all over the place (on the front, on the side, on the back -- <em>everywhere</em>).
Microsoft's 3D HoloDesk
This video has no sound, but it doesn't really need any: Just LOOK at what's going on inside Microsoft's prototype HoloDesk, which, besides being a great tool to practice juggling, also looks like a neat way to learn physics and work on on tactile projects with remote collaborators.
Paper-Thin Concept Smartphone
In May we got a glimpse of this paper-thin concept smartphone, which through the use of bending and a nifty printed circuit board was able to act simultaneously as mp3 player, cell phone and, with its thinness, bookmark.
Vision Of The Future From 3M
3M's vision of the future includes a flexible and transparent gaming device, a really cool-looking washing machine and even a Connect Four made of clear glass. No, don't drop that red piece there! Ah, shoot. Too late.
OmniTouch With Touchscreens On Any Surface
Using technology from the Kinect gaming system, a research team made of developers from Microsoft and Carnegie-Mellon University revealed in October that they've come up with a system that can turn virtually any surface into a touchscreen. <a href="http://www.technologyreview.com/computing/38933/" target="_hplink">Per MIT's Technology Review</a>: <blockquote>OmniTouch works by bringing together a miniature projector and an infrared depth camera, similar to the kind used in Microsoft's Kinect game console, to create a shoulder-worn system designed to interface with mobile devices such as smart phones</blockquote>
Smartphone With Pico Projector
This one is a little more imminent and much more realistic, as it actually exists. Check out this smartphone rigged up with a pico projector that puts your Android or iOS interface on any surface you please. Right now the thing is a little bulky to jam into your jeans pocket (especially if you're wearing skinny jeans) but <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/18/apple-patents-concepts-designs_n_925401.html#s328317&title=3D_Holographic_Projector" target="_hplink">if Apple's 2006 patent proves fruitful</a>, this one could be right around the corner.
Microsoft Future Vision
Microsoft is not shy about releasing its vision of a techie future, and this Future Vision might be its most grandiloquent statement yet. Behold this seamlessly edited look at how the company envisions its products to evolve in the office, in the home and on the go. <em>Minority Report</em> comparisons abound. I, for one, can't wait to get my multilingual eyeglasses.