Recently, a man by the name of Dave Hakkens shook up the tech industry with the exciting announcement of a modular, upgradeable smartphone concept. Citing the growing problem of electronic waste his concept phone, tentatively called Phonebloks, offers an alternative way of dealing with a broken phone. The concept, which is reminiscent of Lego blocks, demonstrates how having each part of the phone (processor, camera, battery, internal memory, antenna, etc) as it’s own easily-replaceable module, would prove handy for repairs. Further, the concept shows promise in offering greater customization and upgrades reducing the need to throw away broken or outdated technology.
The website for Phonebloks appeals to supporters to use social media on October 29th, 2013 to announce their support for a module smartphone. The hope is that Phonebloks will gain a sufficient social media presence to convince tech companies that there is a public need for a module smartphone. Buzz around Phonebloks has been largely positive however some have already questioned it’s viability both financially and physically.
Currently, this module smartphone is simply a concept. George Hahn of Generic Maker critiqued the modular concept saying that not only would it be cost prohibitive with current technology, but that the modular concept, particularly with electrical signals could prove physically impossible. He suggests that the speed of current smart-phones relies on the proximity of each component within the phone and that the module electrical-pin structure of the Phonebloks concept would decrease the speed prohibitively. He suggests that optical connections, rather than electrical would prove to be more viable in a module phone but suggests that this technology is in it’s infancy and will not be ready for some time.