Building blocks for a new phone

Dutch industrial designer Dave Hakkens presents his graduate project, Phonebloks, at the Pecha Kucha session on the 2014 Design Indaba Conference stage.

For his graduate project Dave Hakkens, from the Design Academy Eindhoven, wanted to "make something real". He was concerned about the growing amount of e-waste largely due to the rapid rate of redundancy of cellular technology and set out to design a phone that could reduce this. 

The problem is that digital devices are not designed to last, he says. 

Phonebloks employs a simple plug-and-play concept to reimagine the way we fix, upgrade and customise our cellphones. Instead of replacing your whole phone if, say, the camera breaks or if the battery dies, you can simply unplug it from the grid-like connecting board and replace. This also gives phone users much more opportunity for tailor their phone to their specific needs and preferences for example a bigger battery or better camera. 

But Hakkens wasn't satisfied with just a good idea, he wanted to take it further. The obstacle to making this concept a reality was that he would need investors, developers, manufacturers, designers and entrepreneurs to actually manufacture the phone. 

So he decided in order to get the attention of all of these stakeholders he would show them that there was a demand for the product first. He created a video (shown here) and turned to Thunderclap - crowd-speaking platform - to gain support for Phonebloks. 

The campaign was a huge success reaching 370 000 000 people. 

Watch this video about the next steps for the project. 


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