Long-Lasting Design

Design Bootcamp: Results

Long-Lasting Design

Update: Waag Society has created a booklet covering the entire span of the three-day Fairphone Open Design Bootcamp. It can be downloaded here (pdf).

This blog post was written with a major contribution by Astrid van Roij-Lubsen, Concept Developer at Waag Society. The Fairphone Design Bootcamp was organized by her and the staff of Waag, with the generous support of Stichting DOEN.

What do you want your future (fair) phone to be like?

From May 30 to June 1, Fairphone organized a design bootcamp with 20 professionals from the fields of (phone) design, engineering, sustainability, and telecommunications. This design bootcamp was organized by Waag society, and had an open call to our community and the general public in April to see who would like to participate. Please note that the design and development for this year’s Fairphone is already well underway, so these ideas won’t be implemented exactly in the Fall version. However, the way of thinking and design philosophy behind many of these ideas have already inspired members of our team to incorporate them in future plans.

In the three days of the bootcamp, the participants developed short and long-term solutions in three directions. The aim was to come up with actual prototypes of what the phone of the future could look like and begin developing a design manifesto establishing some design principles for Fairphone.

All the design projects that evolved from the Bootcamp, including pictures and design files have been published under a Creative Commons (Attribution + ShareAlike) license here. We encourage you to take a look and explore the many creative aspects of these designs. Below, we’ve provided a summary of these three tracks and all the designs for your feedback and comments. Here’s our report:

TEAM 1. A Fairphone system that is based on Open Source principles.
Challenge: Involve the community in developing the Fairphone.
Members: Astrid, Casper, Matt, Giselle, Anne Marie, Dennis, Jan-Geert

For this track, the team developed a roadmap towards ‘Fairware’, which was expressed in both long and short term ideas. Thinking short term, the Fairphone should be open source to allow lead users to optimize it, as well as modular so others can repair/replace parts to use the phone longer. As the community grows, opportunities for new commercial innovation would emerge. Making it possible at a later stage for people to pay to be connected, rather than to own a physical product. In the long term, Cradle2Cradle design would enable reuse. Old modules could be used to upgrade other devices, which would allow circulating across product cycles. Waste would no longer exist.

To give a preview of potential outcomes of this scenario on the long term, two prototypes were made:

  • a DIY friendly phone that can be connected to an arduino, allowing tinkerers to interface with the hardware in the phone and extend its basic features, making it more useful and positively extending its lifetime. Fairphone could then support a platform that attracts inventors and makers.
  • a set of modules that together make up a phone. People would be able to use these modules to “disguise” objects in a shape, form, or design of their own making in a FabLab. Example: a fish-shaped watch.

Team 2. A phone that is obviously fair, open, and transparent.
Challenge: The Fairphone should stand out. If you’re better, you’d better look different.
Members: Alex, Eric, Stephen, Ber, Nathalie, Giovanni

Branding: The software and hardware of the Fairphone should all be aligned to communicate the same message. They will make you aware of the story of your phone and help you get the most out of using your phone.

The object itself would contain details that show that it’s fair. The back cover could be made of material that becomes more beautiful as it ages, like leather or wood. The longer you keep your phone, the better it looks. A special Fairpone button could draw the attention of your friends. When pressing it, it would play an interactive movie that displays the journey of the phone – from the making of the phone to pictures from your own camera roll.

Your Fairphone would track your app and service usage, and make you aware of where you can save energy without giving feedback that’s annoying or intrusive. A Karma app could be provided to help you improve your fair and sustainable behavior. Also, you should be able to switch between different user profiles, so that the phone can communicate to you in a “professional” or “relaxing at home” tone-of-voice.

Team 3. A phone that lasts.
Challenge: Phone owners should use their devices as long as possible.
Members: Mickael, Maarten, Hugh, Till, Christian, Felix, Mark, Irene

Team 3 thought, How could we encourage customers to keep their phone and make them feel part of a fairer supply chain? The Fair+ contract! You agree to keep your phone longer, and the money you save will be invested in a fairer supply chain. Only when your phone is too old to hold onto, you switch to the latest Fairphone.

Combined with this idea, we want the future Fairphone to consist of modules that can be replaced when too old. New modules might change in shape or size over time, but that wouldn’t be a problem with the “Flexible phone” that would have a stretchable back cover, or the sandwich phone that can grow bigger and smaller thanks to a flexible area.

What’s next?

The teams got together for three days and came up with some really great, thought-provoking ideas. We’d love to know your thoughts and ideas now that you’ve looked at their designs and prototypes. We challenge you to take their ideas and run with them , add to them, take them in different directions, build, destruct, be creative … and tell us so that we can relay it back to the teams and the community. As one participant, Maarten Hartog, said in his blog post “(…) I shared the ideas I had, so they won’t just stay in my head. And that’s also what Fairphone is about. It’s a phone that is developed by the community who all want to work toward improving the status quo by combining their abilities.”

At Fairphone we’ve been picking up and inspecting the prototypes, talking about the ideas and considering how to absorb them into our next steps. Some of us are occupied with the development and production of Fairphone generation 1 but others are already identifying projects and partners for next steps and interventions. All the above results will serve as input for the sessions that the core team have planned at the end of this month, so get your feedback in before the 18th of June  to join in the preliminary discussions on Fairphone’s next design.

Between now and June 18, we want to give YOU, our community, the opportunity to contribute ideas. Are you inspired? Or did these solutions trigger something in you? To contribute your ideas, please click on each design challenge’s image, and add your comments below! If you need more space, or want to respond privately, you can also write to our Community Manager, Joe, at joe[at], and we’ll give your feedback to the team.

We’ve also put all the designs on our Facebook page, if you prefer to talk on that platform. This could be in the shape of design sketches, or in-depth descriptions or design files. Ultimately, we want to make a creative space for you all to sound off – and who knows, maybe we’ll have another design bootcamp very soon. Until then, I look forward to hearing your ideas, comments, and thought-provocations for a more open, more fair, and longer-lasting future Fairphone!

Extra special thanks to the amazing work of Astrid, everyone at Waag, and Alex and FabLab Amsterdam!

Top photo by Arne Kuilman

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