This is amazing: a sleek, LEGO-like smartphone built out of reconfigurable blocks with little gold-colored electricity-channeling connector pins, where each of the blocks is like a bullet point on a spec sheet — battery, processor, memory, storage, audio, wireless chip, gyroscope, you name it.
Want to slide in a faster processor? Just swap out a block. Cracked screen? Off with the old, on with the new. Don’t need the camera? Or maybe you do everything online and don’t need local storage? The freed up space might let you drop in a bigger battery or detach non-essential components you don’t want leeching electricity.
The front side of the phone is a screen, which doesn’t break apart into blocks because there’s no reason for it to. It’s connected to a base that’s basically a pegboard. Think of the phone as a pegboard sandwich, the screen on one side and all the little blocks clapped into the other, the whole assembly locked into place with a pair of tiny screws.
It’s not just about customizability, either. Phonebloks creator Dave Hakkens argues there’s a powerful conservationist angle, too:
Every day we throw away millions of electronic devices because they get old and become worn out. But usually it’s only one of the components that causes the problem. The rest of the device works fine but is needlessly thrown away, simply because electronic devices are not designed to last. This makes electronic waste one of the fastest growing waste streams in the world. And our phone is one of the biggest causes.
It’s just an idea at this point (though a well-articulated one), and it invites all kinds of questions like how it handles thermal control or water/particle penetration, but the YouTube clip above was published on Tuesday and it’s already pushing upwards of four million views. The website’s been so popular it went kaput from all the traffic (it now redirects to the YouTube video), so there’s clearly interest in this thing.
If ever an idea needed a crowdfunding page, in other words — assuming this guy can dot the i’s and cross the t’s — it’s this one.