Cellphone Evolution – What’s Next?

By PSU EcoMerge Capstone - 12:28 PM

First Cellphone (1983)
The smartphone is one of the most revolutionary pieces of technology in our recent history.  It has changed the way we interact with one another, how we document our lives and even how we see the world.  Over 30 years ago Motorola birthed the first mobile phone.  Yes, birthed… this device was about the size of a small child!  Since 1983 both technology and hair styles have slimmed down their form factors.

Now a day people line up at the store waiting to get their hands on the latest smartphone with more bells and whistles than circus fire truck.  A delicate piece of technology that could slide in to the skinniest of jeans.  6 inch AMOLED displays, 3 GB of memory, 128 GB of storage, the list goes on!  But give it a few months and your beautiful smartphone will be old news.  It’s time to save up your money and buy the next best thing!  Rinse and repeat.

But what happens to your old phone?  What about the delicate craftsmanship that went into creating that device you yearned for once upon a time.  It’s turned into a rock hasn’t it?  Sure feels like it anyway.  When pressing the home button, it takes like 1.85 seconds to respond!  I know right??  The truth is, electronic devices are not designed to last.  Every day, millions of electronics are thrown away because they are deemed no longer relevant.

Project Ara (Back View)
What if I told you there may be a new way to upgrade your phone without getting rid of your “old” phone?  What if all the cell phone pieces were modular and you could swap out any of the components at any time?  Good news for you, this reality isn’t too far away.  Project Ara a Google Company and Phonebloks have been working hard to create the first modular cellphone device.  Ok, big fancy buzz words, I’m sorry.  Essentially what this means is each component of your phone is replaceable.  If you just want to upgrade your camera or memory, you can simply take out that piece and put a new one in.  Think of it as a phone made out of Legos and each Lego representing a key component of your phone.  One of the many great parts about this design is that the removal and installation of these parts is very simple.  Project Ara allows you to slide in tile pieces into the skeletal frame. All the components are kept in place by a low powered magnet.  It also allows the user to prioritize what type of phone they would want.  If there isn’t a need for a camera on your phone because you mainly shoot with a DSLR, you can use that slot for more memory to increase your multitasking functionality.

Project Ara (Front View)
This new concept of phone is still in its primitive stages and may take a few years before it has a home in the consumer market.  It is a thoughtful beginning to environmental conservation and technological modesty.  We don’t need to completely dispose of our phones when you can simply upgrade one or two components.  Keep your eye out in 2015 for the next big thing.


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