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MIT researchers create do-it-yourself mobile phone

May 19, 2012 3:25pm
It may not be the most high-tech of phones, but it could have great sentimental value for the owner as a “homemade” device.
Researchers as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology created the do-it-yourself (DIY) phone using open-source designs for the phone’s circuit board and case.
“Currently, the software supports voice calls, although SMS and other functionality could be added with the same hardware. The prototype contains about $150 in parts,” MIT said.
It said the project aims to explore how close a homemade project can come to the design of a cutting edge device, the economics of building a high-tech device in small quantities, and which parts are available to individual consumers.
MIT said the initial prototype uses a custom electronic circuit board with a laser-cut plywood and veneer enclosure.
“The phone accepts a standard SIM card and works with any GSM provider. Cellular connectivity is provided by the SM5100B GSM Module, available from SparkFun Electronics. The display is a color 1.8″, 160×128 pixel, TFT screen on a breakout board from Adafruit Industries,” it said.
Flexures in the veneer allow pressing of the buttons beneath, it added.
“(W)e hope to encourage a proliferation of personalized and diverse mobile phones. Freed from the constraints of mass production, we plan to explore diverse materials, shapes, and functions. We hope that the project will help us explore and expand the limits of do-it-yourself (DIY) practice,” MIT said.
A separate article on tech site CNET said the project from the Media Lab’s High-Low Tech group is all about encouraging “a proliferation of personalized and diverse mobile phones.”
It said the idea is to take advantage of open-source designs and technologies like 3D printing to democratize one of the most ubiquitous devices on the planet. — ELR, GMA News
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