Phonebloks, the company started by Dutch designer Dave Hakkens with the aim of developing modular electronics, is touting its success in moving its mission forward today, while also calling for additional support in making efficient, user replaceable gadgets a reality – this time from industry partners who support major platform makers.
Sennheiser is the first such partner mentioned in the new Phonebloks video asking for support. The audio company has long been responsible for making high quality devices and components, including headphones and microphones. Its support presumably means that it will design modular components in the audio realm for projects like Google Ara, the modular smartphone design the company debuted last year as part of its Advanced Technology and Projects division. Phonebloks began as an independent concept, but Hakkens worked with Google and Motorola when they originally unveiled Ara, and his company now takes the form of more of a community and industry lobby for the concept of modular electronics rather than a builder of the devices. Hakkens said in an interview that while Ara is still one of Phonebloks’ partners, they are currently looking for more.
That could be a Sennheiser, or it could be other platform creators – Hakkens says that Phonebloks is focused on getting more of the existing industry working together towards modular devices, since this ultimately will have more impact than trying to go it alone or focus on just a single project.
The modular concept does indeed have a lot of appeal, though some have suggested it might actually produce more e-waste, not less, as consumers cycle quickly through module component parts and almost treat them as a disposable commodity. Still, in terms of providing better access to devices and connectivity, modular gadgets have some clear advantages, as evidenced by Ara’s target entry price of just $50. Either way, it’s a concept worth exploring, so I hope more companies do answer the Phonebloks call.