Last weekend I went to Makerbar to participate in a workshop introduced by a friend, Wayne, who is in charge of Seeed Studio Taiwan division. The workshop was about creating your own phone using "Rephone", a modular phone designed by Seeed studio that could transform your ideas about phones and could become an integral part of the IoT ecosystem. There were about 16 people attended the workshop, all from different backgrounds but with the same interest in the Maker movement.
So what exactly is Rephone? The idea is to "Rethink" phone. Here the website (http://www.seeed.cc/rephone/) and a teaser video about rephone:
Rephone is a modular phone that can be connected to different modules such as LED matrix, sensor hub, audio/mic piece, and of course an LCD screen as an interface. It also provides a breakout board for you to wire your own sensors or whatever you need. If you plug in your SIM card it can make and receive phone calls, and even sending text messages (but now you can only type numbers through the interface.)
Another interesting feature is IFTTT(if this then that), basically you can assign an input to associate with an action, for example, if the accelerometer detects sudden drop, you can set it to automatically call your mom, or if the light sensor is covered, then blink the LED matrix.
After the quick introduction about Rephone, our instructor Nosk started a short brainstorming session in order to come up with some ideas for the next stage – Build your own phone!
In the second part of this workshop, we quickly introduced ourselves and grouped into 5 teams to start building prototypes for our ideas. Our team came up with an idea about building a smart backpack for traveling or mountain climbing. We embedded Rephone into a rounded case that can be hocked onto any traveling backpack.
There are three main features: packing list, travel widgets, and travel summary. Before your trip you can input a list of items on Rephone so you won’t miss anything while traveling. During your trip Rephone can provide you different functions such as clock, compass, geo-tag, signal light, and even a quick emergency phone call. And after your trip, Rephone can show you a summary of your trip, including steps, duration, and even your routes.
We built a quick prototype to show the appearance and our team member even rendered a nice 3D model of it! There were also some cool ideas from other teams, I love the one that embedded Rephone into any cup to track how much water you drink during a day.
After the workshop, I feel like we shouldn’t think of Rephone as a phone anymore, it could be a wearable, and it could be not only for people but also for animals or even objects. That’s the power of modular system, being able to adapt to different circumstances and create new values.