Turning Old Smartphones Into Desk Art: A Simple Fix to a Big Waste Problem

Ty Emerald
By Ty Emerald

Smartphones and tablets are everywhere, but what happens when they’re old or out of style? Too many end up in landfills, causing pollution. It’s a big problem because not everyone knows how to or can easily recycle their old devices. In fact, millions of phones are thrown away each year, with only a small percentage being recycled. This adds up to a lot of waste and harm to our planet.

Enter the Think Tank Team with a smart solution: giving old smartphones a second chance with a new purpose. They’ve come up with a way to make old phones useful again, without needing to break them apart or recycle them. This idea is all about upcycling – using something in a new way to give it more value.

Their design is clever yet simple. It’s a holder for your phone, shaped like a taco, made from recycled plastic. You just slide your phone in, and it sits there on your desk or shelf. This isn’t just any phone stand, though. It’s designed to let you interact with your phone by moving it, like tilting to change what’s on the screen. 

Project Afterlife has three modes to choose from: ‘Endless Clock’ that generates a new, unique clock face with every movement, ‘Timeline’ brings your memories to life through photos, and ‘Moment’ transforms your photos into abstract art.

You can turn your phone into a clock that changes faces with a nudge or a photo frame that scrolls through pictures with a slight rock.

The Afterlife body is constructed out of a single piece of recycled plastic, with a recycled brass knob for additional input and rocking effect, making it sturdy and eco-friendly.

The beauty of this idea is it’s easy. You don’t have to be tech-savvy or spend lots of effort to make your old phone useful again. Plus, it’s made from recycled materials, making it even better for the planet.

But, as cool as this is, it’s not a perfect fix. We have to think about whether making and shipping these holders cancels out their good points. And, they must be affordable and easy for everyone to get. Otherwise, they won’t make much of a dent in the huge problem of phone waste.

This project shows a creative way to tackle the issue of too many phones ending up as trash. 

It’s a step towards using design and innovation to make things better for our planet. But it’s just one part of the solution. 

We also need to buy less, use things longer, and get better at recycling.

Designer: Think Tank Team

The Think Tank Team is an interdisciplinary collective of researchers, designers, scientists and engineers located in Mountain View, CA and Seoul, South Korea and is part of Samsung Research America.

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