This mobile phone can build itself

Image: REUTERS

Henry Taylor
Previously, Lead, Product and Innovation, Digital media, World Economic Forum Geneva
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Not content with creating an Ikea-style chair that can build itself (in case you really are that lazy), researchers at MIT's Self-Assembly Lab have gone one step further and are working on a mobile phone that pulls itself together.

How does it work? The six individual phone components each have specific lock-and-key-style connection mechanisms, meaning they'll only connect with their corresponding opposite pieces. All of the components are placed inside a rotating tumbler, and the pieces collide with one another, eventually combining to form a finished (and more importantly, working) handset.

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The inspiration for the approach comes from the mechanisms proteins use to fold and form into other, more complex proteins. And the advantage of a phone that builds itself over standard automated manufacturing would of course be lower production costs, particularly as much of the technology required already exists in factories.

For the moment, self-assembly technology is still something of a pipe dream and its impact on the future of manufacturing is yet to be seen, but it raises exciting possibilities for how we might conceptualize and create products in the near-future.

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