Wandular

Wandular
Like many new ideas WandULar was born out of a mixture of love and frustration. A love of technology and what it enables us to do, but a frustration with the current model of technological development. WandULar is an investigation into how we might overcome obsolescence in consumer electronics and see if its possible to develop a devices that evolves with you over your lifetime, ageing stylishly and staying up to date thanks to cloud downloads and hardware plugins. We wanted to explore a different vision to the one current espoused by the consumer electronics industry and help suspend disbelief about what is possible. And we've found that by rethinking how technology is ‘made’ and lengthening its lifespan it can have new emotional, sustainable, and financial benefits to people and business alike.
Future business model

We know that the business model of personal mobile devices if both unsatsifactory and unsustainable -  for example, the average lifespan of a mobile phone is 18 months. In Europe alone, upgrades or damage make 100 million phones obsolete every year. Which is bad for the environment and frustrating for us as people.

Business models shouldn't be based on filling the world with more stuff. We've explored how personal electronics businesses could move from a product to a service-based business model and looked for what an alternative could look like. And you know what, we belive that the revenue that companies could gain from a data/services model rather than just hardware sales mean a service model could be a profitable model.
 
The way a device like WandULar would work is that users pay for cloud services ranging from data to apps an other functionality with high margins. Although hardware is still profitable, consumers spend more money in the cloud and on modular upgrades, They would no longer need the next new device to access the latest feature or service. Traditional smartphones and alternative devices (such as holographic projectors) would complement  a strong market of long-lived devices.
 
At Forum for the Future we've done some detailed number crunching to back all of this up, so if you want to know more about the business model work then get in touch with us using the contact form at the top right of your screen.
Wandular visions

WandULar comes in different forms; a child's toy or a necklace - you decide. And it can switch between different forms for different parts of your life. You can personalise WandULar from the start.

We've worked with students at Brunel University to design what they think WandULar might look.

Their designs were based on the idea of emotional durability as we know that people who feel emotionally connected with products tend to keep them longer. How can we design devices that people want to keep instead of replace? Wandular would be made of materials that get better with age. Its surfaces subtly build up layers of patina, giving it character an an elevated status as time passes.

The students at Brunel came up with a collection of different visions for what WandULar could look like - which would suit people at ifferent stages of life - from the family nest, to a childs toy or even a wearable version. 

 

The Wandular toolkit

We've developed a toolkit to inspire new thinking about how we design, make and consume technology. 

The ideas in this toolkit are based on the learnings from our WandULar project and is aimed at anyone interested in technology and sustainability — businesses, students, designers or everyday citizens of our tech rich world. We think this can be used to stimulate discussion, thinking and making in studios, workshops, businesses and classrooms. 

 
It challenges you to design a ‘device for life’: A personal electronic device that you don’t throw away or replace.
  • How would it work?
  • How could it stay current?
  • Would it be technologically feasible?
  • What’s the business model?
  • How could it be made sustainably?
 
We'd love to hear how you get on using the toolkit.
Design Museum

You can see a summary of the WandULar concept and some of the models from Brunel University at the Design Museum in London. The exhibition, The Future is here: A new indsutrial revolution  on from the 24th July to the 29th Oct 2013.

Technical feasibility

WandULar is a long-lasting device, it's hardware is minmal and components are upgraded as necessary. The bulk of functionality is delivered from the cloud so fewer changes and upgrades to devices are necessary from year to year. The device uses a robust connection to stream some serious computing and graphics processing from a remote service - rather than doing it all 'on board'.

 

WandULar is also designed for disassembly; it can be easily repaired and improved. It would be built to last decades—with periodic modular upgrades for major generational components, such as network and screen technology

We've done some work around the detail of this, and have some technical, working prototypes too. But we know this isn't everyone's cup of tea, so get in touch if you want to know more.

Psst... do something!

Enough reading, time to go and experiment