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Facebook Addresses Waste With Modular 3D Printed Smartphone

  • 5 September 2017
  • Cas Proffitt

The Building 8 Consumer division at Facebook has developed and filed for a patent on a “modular electromechanical device.” CEO and Founder Mark Zuckerberg previously stated that Facebook had no intentions of releasing a smartphone, that they would not have a wide enough market impact for it to be worthwhile.

Facebook has determined that so much waste is produced by forcing consumers to purchase sealed units and while some components would still be useful, they end up being scrapped due to other parts falling out of date.

In order to combat this waste, Facebook has filed for a patent on a device which can function as a phone, GPS, speaker, and many other things to suit a diverse consumer need. The patent details include a base chassis and several optional modules that snap together, much like building blocks.

How is it different from current phones?

This modular format will enable consumers to remain up to date in terms of components without having to scrap an entire, fully-functional unit to do so.

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It is unclear when Facebook will begin production of these units, but once they do, the mobile phone industry is likely to see significant innovation upon this basic idea.

According to the documentation published by the USPTO, Facebook describes components for the phone concept ranging from processor slots to speakers and GPS modules. The device and its components will also be 3D printed to ensure consistency and minimized waste.

I thought Facebook wasn’t going to release a phone?

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg initially stated that the company would not be releasing a smartphone due to a low potential for market impact. Zuckerberg has since taken notice of exorbitant amounts of waste and sees this device as an effective means of keeping consumer electronics up to date without so much extra waste.

While Facebook had initially decided not to release a phone, one may commend them for identifying an issue and seeking to actively resolve it.

Who at Facebook designed the new phone?

Last year, Facebook acquired Nascent Objects, a 3D printing startup that produced electronics with interchangeable parts.  The resources Facebook acquired in the deal likely contributed significantly to the advancement of this project. The inventors are listed as Baback Elmieh, Alexandre Jais, Rex Wenters Crossen, and Andrew Alexander Robberts. All of the listed inventors worked with Nascent Objects.

Building 8 houses some of the greatest creative minds in the world, including several employees who worked on Project Ara, another modular smartphone concept that was shut down last year. This project highlights a clear issue in the market currently and sets a clear method of resolving the issue.

Would you buy a modular Facebook smartphone? Let us know in the comments below!

About Cas Proffitt

Cas is a B2B Content Marketer and Brand Consultant who specializes in disruptive technology. She covers topics like artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, blockchain, and big data, to name a few. Cas is also co-owner of an esports organization and spends much of her time teaching gamers how to make a living doing what they love while bringing positivity to the gaming community.