OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones

Joe Stanganelli, Founder and Principal, Beacon Hill Law | 9/11/2013 | 83 comments

Joe Stanganelli
Nietzsche said, "That which does not kill me can only make me stronger." Scientists have recently discovered that this may be literally true in the case of plastics, and it could be a real boon to OEMs.

Researchers affiliated with Duke University have created a new type of plastic that becomes stronger when torn, stretched, or otherwise abused. The secret lies in special mechanophores. Mechanophores are compounds that react to a mechanical stress (as opposed to something like light, or heat, or a chemical).

In a paper published in Nature Chemistry earlier this year (the catchily-titled "Mechanochemical strengthening of a synthetic polymer in response to typically destructive shear forces"), researchers described how -- by carefully arranging a series of carbon and bromine atoms -- a specially enhanced polybutiadiene material could rearrange its molecular structure when under mechanical duress in such a way that new, stronger bonds and chains are formed. In testing, researchers discovered that the material hardened two hundred-fold when it was mechanically stressed.

The principle is the same as that which governs much of the human body. When we exercise effectively, our muscles tear slightly; they become tender and sore. Gradually, however, these muscles replenish themselves where they have torn, rebuilding themselves -- ourselves -- stronger than they were before.

In the case of the researchers' enhanced polymers, the result is something sort of like a science fiction bad guy who just laughs and gets stronger when the heroes attack him, and the heroes are like, "It's not working! He's absorbing the energy!" and the bad guy keeps laughing and is like "Fools!" and then he eats a tank or something, and the heroes have to find another way to defeat him.

[Editor’s Note: The author watched a lot of cartoons in the 80s.]

Here, however, the researchers hope to use this new material for good instead of evil. Possibilities include plastic shopping bags that don't rip, cars and planes that don't get damaged, roads and bridges that stay resilient through the seasons, better reinforced buildings that stay sturdy through natural disasters, and more powerful prosthetics and other biomedical devices.

And, of course, unbreakable smartphones. At least, that's the one that seems to have the tech community most excited.

Smartphones, as anyone who has ever dropped or sat on one knows, are notorious for apparently being constructed of the most fragile material on Earth, including (I'm guessing) the soft spots of babies' heads. Consequently, we buy cheap plastic cases to protect our phones, which help a little bit, but usually not much. Ditto for our tablets and other mobile devices. In a world where mechanophores are adapted for use in smartphone components, we might see the day where accidentally dropping and stepping on your brand new phone doesn't automatically mean a trip to the repair shop.

“The idea that you can take destructive energy and turn it into constructive energy is pretty exciting,” says Stephen Craig, a Duke University chemistry professor whose research group, the Craig Group, worked on the project.

Of course, the Craig Group's work is not the stuff of infinite strength and unlimited power. Although the researchers did not push their enhanced material to its limits, Craig acknowledges that at some point the material would exhaust its ability to form new bonds; at that point, real damage would begin to accrue from mechanical stress. Besides which, the Group's work is far from over. The next step, says Craig, is to figure out how to reverse the hardening process to keep materials soft and flexible for shock resistance.

Indeed, the Craig Group's work has been cited as one example of why some OEMs have invested so much in plastics engineering and other high-ends materials science. Plastic is lightweight, it can be cheaply produced, it can be molded into complex shapes (even being utilized in 3D printing), and it is strong -- stronger, it turns out, than we could have previously imagined.

What with their flexibility and sustainability, high-end polymers are not just the materials of today's enterprise; they are the materials of the future.

View Comments: Threaded | Newest First | Oldest First
SaneIT   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/11/2013 7:25:46 AM
new plastics
I have to say I'm more excited about this part.  "Possibilities include plastic shopping bags that don't rip, cars and planes that don't get damaged, roads and bridges that stay resilient through the seasons, better reinforced buildings that stay sturdy through natural disasters, and more powerful prosthetics and other biomedical devices."


Until someone comes up with an unbreakable glass for the smart phone screen then I'm just going to hold off on calling any phone unbreakable.  I've seen far more broken glass on phones than broken plastic. 
Joe Stanganelli   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/11/2013 8:59:42 AM
Re: new plastics
@SaneIT: The funny thing for me writing this article is that the case I had for my previous phone was AWESOME.  The first week I had my phone, I dropped and stepped on it a bunch, and it was totally fine with the case I had.

Over the following couple of years, my phone continued to get dropped on sidewalks, in parking lots, on tile floors, etc..  It took a HUGE beating.  The case got scratched up a fair amount in places, and the phone was fine.

Finally, my phone's days became numbered when I dropped it while going up the stairs in a large building atrium.  The phone fell in between the stairs about three stories, straight down onto the hard lobby floor below.  I ran down the stairs.  The home button and the screen had popped a little bit out of the phone and it was completely unworkable, but otherwise the phone -- including the screen -- was unscratched.  I got it repaired the same day.  The antenna and some of the other electronics were messed up after that, so my phone conversations and Internet browsing were spottier, but it was still mostly functional for a while.

Eventually, it went kaput and I had to get a new one, but the case I had was terrific.

Now I have a rubber case, which seems to be okay.  I've dropped my current phone only once on a hard surface since getting it, and the rubber case just let it harmlessly bounce a couple of times.
tinym   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/11/2013 2:38:56 PM
Re: new plastics
@Joe I really enjoyed this article. It's been a while since I've seen you around here - welcome back! This new plastic sounds super fantastic. Does it degrade well once thrown out or just get strong over time until it reaches that final breaking point?
Susan Nunziata   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/13/2013 8:09:52 PM
Re: new plastics
@tinym: Oh! Great question. I hadn't thought about the environmental implications. We have enough problem with plastics polution worldwide, already.

What will the world look like when we have plastics that keep getting stronger? Yikes!

 
Henrisha   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/13/2013 9:29:07 PM
Re: new plastics
Good point, tinym. I didn't think of it but I'm sure the environment will be impacted. Things are already pretty dire on that end. Thinking about tougher, "unbreakable" plastics... I shudder at the thought.
Susan Nunziata   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/19/2013 3:11:59 PM
Re: new plastics
@henrisha: right, I'm with you on that one.

This will require a robust, worldwide recycling strategy, that's for sure.
stotheco   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/15/2013 4:39:37 AM
Re: new plastics
Hmm. It looks like many people are concerned over the materials being used and how they are to the environment. It would be great if someone can come on and claridy regarding this matter.
David Wagner   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/16/2013 1:25:25 PM
Re: new plastics
@susan and tinym- Wouldn't it mean we'd stop making new plastic? We'd just reuse. Also, it gets stronger when exposed to specific forces. We could still melt it and recycle it.
tinym   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/16/2013 2:44:38 PM
Re: new plastics
@Dave that might just work!
David Wagner   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/17/2013 6:17:58 PM
Re: new plastics
@tinym- Thanks, though I'm not sure our style conscious world would like it. That said, one of my favorite things about E2 is ho someone can say "what about this" and another one of us can say "well,we can fix it this way." It seems like a different person with a problem and an answer each time which is awesome.
tinym   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/22/2013 11:53:00 PM
Re: new plastics
@Dave that's what I like about this great place. :)
Susan Nunziata   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/19/2013 10:03:46 PM
Re: new plastics
@Dave: theoretially, yes. But seeing as how we've been completely unable to do that with regular plastics, it's hard to imagine a drive to do so with this substance, unless of course that was where $$ was to be made...
David Wagner   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/20/2013 2:42:34 PM
Re: new plastics
@Susan- True, but we're starting to see businesses designed around making money from recycling where consumers are lazy. I think we will see the same thing.
tinym   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/16/2013 2:42:39 PM
Re: new plastics
@Susan hopefully there will be some research done on this aspect of the product before it reaches production.
Susan Nunziata   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/19/2013 10:16:57 PM
Re: new plastics
@Tinym: Agreed. Surely the folks doing this research are already considering these issues. We certainly don't need to add anything more to The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
David Wagner   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/20/2013 2:44:51 PM
Re: new plastics
@Susan- Don't knock the great Pacific garbage patch. I'm hoping to use it as California 2.0 when the regular one falls into the sea after the Big One.
Susan Nunziata   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/20/2013 7:06:42 PM
Re: new plastics
@Dave: LOL LOL. I like your retirement planning! Very innovative.
tinym   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/23/2013 12:07:21 AM
Re: new plastics
@susan indestructible garbage patches might be a problem in the future...
David Wagner   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/11/2013 5:45:38 PM
Re: new plastics
@Joe- This is really neat stuff, but I've got a question for you-- with electronics is harder better? If the thing gets tougher on impact, doesn't it mean whatever is inside will also hit the tougher thing?

That's the concept behind crumple zones in cars, too, right? The idea is to absorb the imapct rather than to try to take the imapct rhead on. Whether it is the sensitive electronics or a person, a tougher material may not be a safe material on impact, right?
Joe Stanganelli   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/11/2013 7:45:05 PM
Re: new plastics
@Dave: Certainly, which is part of why the researchers are now looking into reversing the process and better understanding this to try to get the best of both worlds.  As is, the material doesn't appear to be very useful for electronics and many other applications now, but it is very encouraging for the future.

And, of course, just to be clear for readers (and address Ariella's point), it's not so much a tougher material as a material that gets tougher.  We're more or less talking about the reverse effect of what you might expect when it comes to mechanical stress/shear force.
David Wagner   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/11/2013 7:53:00 PM
Re: new plastics
I definitely get that it gets tougher. I love it. It is better than Wolverine. Wolverine actually tears and heals. This actually prevents the tearing by healing before it even tears. I guess I get it in bags and stuff like that. I'm frightened by the idea of putting it on a tank.

I'm still trying to wrap my head around it in safety places, but thanks for clarifying.
Joe Stanganelli   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/12/2013 12:14:39 AM
Re: new plastics
And not just healing, Dave -- coming back stronger!

It would be like getting in a street fight with the Olsen Twins, and you attack them, and instead of getting hurt, they turn into the Steiner Brothers.
David Wagner   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/12/2013 12:25:38 AM
Re: new plastics
Whoah did you just break out a Full House AND a old school pro wrestling reference in one comment? That's kickin' it old school.
Joe Stanganelli   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/12/2013 12:28:45 AM
Re: new plastics
@Dave: I did.  Don't you wish your girlfriend was hot like me?

Actually, I meant modern day Olsen Twins (who are of quite slight build) -- but the analogy works even better (albeit coming off as more disturbing) by imagining Full House-era Olsen Twins in that context.
David Wagner   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/12/2013 12:35:32 AM
Re: new plastics
@Joe- I suppose you're right. After all, the old school Olsen twins actually only played one person so you couldn't do a tag team match between them.
Pedro Gonzales   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/11/2013 12:11:37 PM
Re: new plastics
I agree I see so many people with their screens scratch or broken is unbelievable. Wow, this is a great discovery, this is a discovery that has so many its commercial and practical applications.  We could say the same with tires,  I will like to see this material being applied in glasses, my glasses take a real beating, sometimes I seat on them or forget to put them back in their case before I sleep.
David Wagner   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/11/2013 5:39:07 PM
Re: new plastics
@SaneIt- They're definitely working on glass that fits your needs. In fact, i thought we covered some here at E2, but I can't find the link. At any rate, I'm not all that excited about unbreakable phones, but I love the idea of using it in cars and other safety intensive areas.
SaneIT   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/12/2013 7:20:38 AM
Re: new plastics
I know we keep hearing about flexible displays, I can't remember if there has been a post here or not but I'm more interested in the display issue than better cases/bodies for phones.  There are many days where I wonder where Saturn went wrong, waaaayyyy back in the day my wife had an SC2, it was an OK little car but those plastic panels meant no dents even after the thing had 200,000 miles on it.  I'm really surprised that other manufacturers didn't go down the path of plastic body panels since almost all of them do plastic bumper covers and plastic everything else.
Susan Nunziata   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/13/2013 8:01:17 PM
Re: new plastics
@SaneIT: I remember those cars. Ingenious. How cool would it be now if these new plastics could be used to make a self-repairing automobile while still being strong enough to keep us safe?

I could have used this when I encountered a car-eating pillar in a parking lot recently.
Henrisha   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/13/2013 9:29:56 PM
Re: new plastics
Lol regarding the car-eating pillar. On a side note, I'd think it would be interesting if automobile tech (like self-repairing plastics and other materials) are used and applied in the manufacture of mobiles.
Susan Nunziata   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/19/2013 3:15:53 PM
Re: new plastics
@Henrisha: heh heh. Yes! having destroyed my share of smartphones thru the years (two by drowning, one by theft, one by crashing onto a concrete parking lot) I'm all for an unbreakable phone.

Added bonus: one that can morph itself every two years into the latest greatest new design to avoid technical obsolecence and retain the "cool" factor.

 
Broadway   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/19/2013 10:42:17 PM
Re: new plastics
@Susan, my favorite cellphone ever --- a wild orange Samsung slider that was state o' the art back a year before iPhones --- I lost in a drunken 40 yard dash. Flew right out of my cargo pocket. I was heart broken. Much more heart than the phones I left on the roof of my car.
David Wagner   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/20/2013 2:45:41 PM
Re: new plastics
@Broadway- the important question-- did you at least win the race?
Broadway   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/20/2013 10:28:51 PM
Re: new plastics
@David, I did. Of course! I no longer race without buttoning my pockets first, however.
David Wagner   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/23/2013 5:47:12 PM
Re: new plastics
@Broadway- Good for you. At least you didn't lose it in vain. I had a baseball hat I truly loved and had owned for well over a decade. it had worn in perfectly and had years of dirt and sweat on it from great softball games. It had probably been on hundreds of roller coasters and never fell off my head.

i took it on a tiny baby coaster with my then 4 year old daughter. For some reason, it fell on this tiny roller coaster and was lost forever to the abyss.

I didn't mind losing the thing so much as that it gave up its life on such a tiny thing. if your stuff makes a sacrifice, it shold be worth it. :)
Broadway   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/23/2013 6:23:04 PM
Re: new plastics
@David, that is a sad sad story and one that makes me wonder about the sensitivities of inanimate objects. Maybe that hat simply had no more roller coasters and softball games in it.
David Wagner   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/23/2013 6:26:49 PM
Re: new plastics
@Broadway- I never thought of that. Maybe it had aged, gotten motion sick and just jumped off to avoid more punishment. I feel bad now. i totaly should have been more careful with it.

Clearly though, i'm bad to hats. I lost the replacement hat when i left it in a beach bag and it molded. I tried to wash it, but it never returned to its previous shape.

The next one, which I've only had for a few a months has already developed a strange cockeyed brim. i don't know if it is the hat or something about my head making it happen. :)
Susan Nunziata   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/20/2013 6:45:35 PM
Re: new plastics
@Broadway: Ow. I remember those, they were the ones all the hipsters had back in the day.

;)

I refuse to reveal whether or not there was alcohol involved in any of my smartphone mishaps, on the grounds that it may incriminate me...

Oh wait, I think I just revealed the answer...LOL.
Broadway   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/20/2013 10:31:51 PM
Re: new plastics
@Susan, it was my 15-minutes of cellphone fame. For once in my life (at least not since I had ColecoVision) I had a cool mobile device. Even if I had not lost lost it, that phone would have been uncool within a few months, maybe weeks -- it was right before smartphones and the iPhone exploded on the scene. My device coolness has never recovered.
Susan Nunziata   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/23/2013 12:45:53 PM
Re: new plastics
@Broadway: Too funny! There's still hope for you...get one of the first smartwatches.

:)
Broadway   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/23/2013 2:07:23 PM
Re: new plastics
@Susan, I am not a watch guy, so I was thinking of Google Glasses --- even if I have to mug one of the few people who currently have them ; )

 
Susan Nunziata   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/23/2013 3:05:54 PM
Re: new plastics
@Broadway: that will be easy. They'll never see you coming because they're too busy looking at their google glasses.

Go for it. Let us know how that turns out. I'm sure the E2 community will rally together and raise your bail money if necessary.
Broadway   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/23/2013 6:20:38 PM
Re: new plastics
I think the mugging would make Fox News and would cause Google to rethink their design. How safe can they be if a slow, middle-aged man can catch up and blindside a user and steal them? Ultimately, it would be a public service.
Susan Nunziata   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/29/2013 4:24:00 PM
Re: new plastics
@Broadway. Too funny. I can't wait until the video of the mugging goes viral.

:)
Broadway   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/29/2013 8:50:48 PM
Re: new plastics
@susan, if I end up pulling off this google glasses mugging, let it be known that like heavy metal music, the content of this website turned me to the dark side. I will use it in my courtroom defense!
Susan Nunziata   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/29/2013 8:56:00 PM
Re: new plastics
@Broadway: Hahahahaaaaaa. I can't wait to see the headline now.

"Google Glass Crook: E2 Made Me Do It"

 
The_Phil   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/23/2013 8:02:57 PM
Re: new plastics
I won't. Not to say I won't put in a good word to the judge though...
SaneIT   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/16/2013 7:21:00 AM
Re: new plastics
The old Saturns were the first thing I thought of when I read self healing plastics.  Sure phones get dropped but compare the expense of a phone case to the expense of auto body work even in a light collision.  Even some of the interior plastics would be nice to have the self healing ability.  When you've got a product that costs 10s of thousands of dollars and you put a couple hundred thousand miles on it, things are going to get broken.
jastro   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/12/2013 11:00:57 AM
Re: new plastics
I'll be more happy when I can create my new phone from my 3-D printer  :-)
SaneIT   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/13/2013 7:43:18 AM
Re: new plastics
Now that would be nice.  I saw a concept for a modular phone that lets you snap on different components but it seems like that is going to get expensive and all the cracks between components seems like a great way to introduce dust and moisture into the device.  As long as you can print a solid device I'm all for it.
Henrisha   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/13/2013 9:28:31 PM
Re: new plastics
A modular phone sounds cool. I always find concepts like these so interesting, more so because they've really the potential to be hits if they cross that line and get turned into the real thing.

Any chance you have a link for that modular phone concept?
Susan Nunziata   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/13/2013 8:01:48 PM
Re: new plastics
@jastro: heh heh. And it would double as your toaster and coffeemaker. :)
angelfuego   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/16/2013 7:03:18 PM
Re: new plastics
@tinym, you brought up a valid point. It's concerning to me as well. I wonder what the solution will be.
angelfuego   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/16/2013 7:11:54 PM
Re: new plastics
@Dave, that would be a viable and environmentally friendly solution. Go green!
angelfuego   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/16/2013 7:16:08 PM
Re: new plastics
@jastro, you never know. Technology never ceases to amaze me. It might not be that far fetched.
soozyg   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/11/2013 7:51:59 AM
the environment
So interesting! The environmentalist in me, however, doesn't want to imagine the chemicals that would be spewed out of chimney stacks to mass produce this stuff.
Pedro Gonzales   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/11/2013 12:22:19 PM
Re: the environment
@soozyg.  I have no idea how materials are manufactured.  Does this really happen when such materials are produced. Hopefully, there are some material science engineer in this community or an industrial engineer and can use this as their next research topic:

improving the manufacturing process of carbon based materials by minimizing their emission in the air.

 
soozyg   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/11/2013 7:57:40 AM
dynamic duo
If you combine mecanophores with a new stain resister product called Neverwet, you'd probably have the perfect product. : )
Joe Stanganelli   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/11/2013 9:01:08 AM
Re: dynamic duo
@soozyg: Didn't the Harry Potter world have something similar?
impactnow   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/11/2013 1:52:44 PM
Great but expand
I think this is great.I would love to see it expanded to include almost a rubberized case for phones and tablets that prevents cracking and chipping they are way too fragile for all the transporting we all do with our tablets. I have only seen these rubber cases for infants would love to see them in adult styles.
Joe Stanganelli   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/11/2013 3:39:09 PM
Re: Great but expand
Rubber-like cases exist for us adults.  :)  I have one on my phone now.
Ariella   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/11/2013 4:04:35 PM
Re: Great but expand
@Joe, yes, why not? I remember now writing about surveying equipment that is ruggedized to withstand drops of a few feet on concrete. There's no reason why that kind of protection can't be applied to phones, too.
David Wagner   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/11/2013 5:42:55 PM
Re: Great but expand
@Joe- Spongebob or My Little Pony? :)
Joe Stanganelli   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/11/2013 7:46:44 PM
Re: Great but expand
@Dave: Spongebob didn't air until '99.  :p
zerox203   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/11/2013 9:06:27 PM
Re: Unbreakable Phones
This is fascinating. Thanks for the summary, Joe! Like Dave, I'm a little fuzzy on the details here - this kind of heavy science/chemistry is a little out of my comfort zone. I don't know where yours is, but you've done a very good job with the terminology here and I appreciate the amount of extra research that probably took. Your explanation is good, too - the necessity for a second reading of some lines was, I think, entirely on me.

When you stack up the list, we get a picture of some pretty much interesting products/devices in the future. If you combin this technology here, carbon nanotubes, quantum computing, 3d printing, and who knows what else into one seamless environment (not so unfeasible to occur in a not-so-long  timeframe, as we've come to learn with cloud computing and mobile working in tandem), you're looking at some radically different devices that could really change the way we live our lives that much further. Here's hoping.
Joe Stanganelli   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/12/2013 12:37:27 AM
Re: Unbreakable Phones
Thanks, zerox.  Very nice of you to say; I appreciate your comments.  Obviously, I can't become a chemistry expert overnight (I barely remember a lick of it from high school), but I do make an effort to understand this stuff at least slightly better than I absolutely need to in order to write about it for you guys.

The article includes a hyperlink to the researchers' actual paper, but you have to pay to get access to it.
Hospice_Houngbo   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/11/2013 10:15:46 PM
Will we become unbreakable?
With that discovery, will we soon live a hundred years? If the technology makes objects unbreakable, might it help us to build more efficient and safer buildings that can resist earthquakes?
David Wagner   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/12/2013 12:29:29 AM
Re: Will we become unbreakable?
@H_H- there's that interesting problem again. In earthquakes, we don't like our buldings to be too rigid. Even if the building holds (which is harder when it is rigid) the people and stuff inside get shaken like crazy, but if you transmit some of the energy to the building's flexing you have a safer ride inside and the building is less likely to buckle.

I think we're going to want to create some sort of emergency shell out of this stuff similar to what Indy races cars have. Indy race cars have serious crumble zones to absorb energy, but they have a very rigid "bathtub" where the driver sits as a last resort. If we can find a way to make buildings that stretch and twist but have a super shell of last resort that keep them from collapsing, I think we're in good shape.
Susan Nunziata   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/13/2013 8:05:20 PM
Re: Will we become unbreakable?
@Dave, @H-H: Intriguing thoughts all around. Would also make sense for our bridges and tunnels as well to reinforce them while allowing the maximum flexibility.

Have these materials been tested for flight? Self-repairing airplane parts would be comforting...

 
David Wagner   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/16/2013 1:23:59 PM
Re: Will we become unbreakable?
@Susan- While I agree that would be comfortng, I'm not sure how many critical airline parts are made of plastic. And I'm not sure how many plastic parts could be built and maintain their tolerances for airplane parts. But the idea is intriguing.
Susan Nunziata   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/19/2013 10:02:30 PM
Re: Will we become unbreakable?
@Dave: That's true--I may be getting ahead of myself. Although, honestly, the last airplane I was on shook and rattled as if it were made of platic and being operated by a toddler.
Joe Stanganelli   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/12/2013 12:34:22 AM
Re: Will we become unbreakable?
@Hospice: Interesting and keen of you to bring up the biological implications.  Of course, it's important to recall that this purely is about mechanical stresses -- not chemical or thermodynamic or other kinds of stresses/energies.  But yes, the technology is already being thought of in terms of strengthening implantable devices.  Really great stuff.

Ditto for strengthening buildings in case of earthquakes, potentially.
Technocrat   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/15/2013 1:24:58 PM
Unbreakable You Say ?
I was initially really excited to think of the possibilities of unbreakable Phones, but then I came back to reality.  While it would be fantastic no doubt, cell phones like any other product is meant to have a limited shelf-life.

The objective of business is to sell, and you can't do that when your customers are statisfied with the product they already own. 

So while it will be nice to have this offered by some OEMs I would not expect to hear much about it.
David Wagner   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/16/2013 1:27:28 PM
Re: Unbreakable You Say ?
@technocrat- Couldn't you just change the guts and keep reusing the case? I know we're into style changes and all that, but really, it wouldn't be the worst thing to find an ideal phone shape and then reuse it for decades by simply sliding in new hardware.
Technocrat   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/17/2013 11:51:08 PM
Re: Unbreakable You Say ?
@David    I like your solution !   Really a phone can only be so big and I think we have reach the max size in recent models - so really all one would need is improved hardware.


Give them time David, the industry will catch up to your vision eventually.
angelfuego   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/16/2013 7:20:05 PM
Re: Unbreakable You Say ?
@technorat. Yes. I wonder how "unbreakable" phones will be viewed by most providers. If the turnover rate of phone purchases are reduced because of the longer shelf life, providers/carriers will have a decrease in phone sales and in the amount of customers purchasing insurance on their phones. I sometimes think most cell phones have a shelf life of a year or two (if you are lucky) on purpose.
angelfuego   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/16/2013 7:29:07 PM
Re: Unbreakable You Say ?
I wish they could design a cell phone that could have a case that acts as a barrier for radio frequency energies that emit cancer. I have an anti-radiation shield sticker on my phone, which I paid $35 for. I hope it actually protects me, but I think it it would be excellent if all phone cases had an anti-radiation shield. I know some people question the effectiveness of such stickers but it's worth a shot.
angelfuego   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/16/2013 7:33:48 PM
Re: Unbreakable You Say ?
I remember a coworker of mine from about 12 years ago that swore his Nextel phone was unbreakable. He would smash it on the floor for all of the colleagues to witness. He also claimed he ran it over with his SUV and it still works. It was rubbery, tough, and water resistant. I am not fully convinced about his second claim, but it was a pretty "unbreakable" phone.
Technocrat   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/17/2013 11:47:01 PM
Re: Unbreakable You Say ?
" I sometimes think most cell phones have a shelf life of a year or two (if you are lucky) on purpose."

@angelfuego     I really think that is the case, look how many models come out every six months.  Manufacturers are here to build and sell and build some more, over and over again - thus the two year window that we have now and for the foreseeable future.
ProgMan   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/16/2013 9:33:07 AM
Will OEM's really..
want to be making phones that are "unbreakable"?  Any more than car manafacturers want to make cars that are indestructible?  And I would think that the insurance that cell carriers offer on their phones is a cash cow that would be kind of endangered with this plastic?
angelfuego   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/16/2013 7:13:40 PM
Re: Will OEM's really..
@progman, I hope an unbreakable phone includes an unbreakable screen.
ProgMan   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/17/2013 3:00:25 PM
Re: Will OEM's really..
Yeah, I could get excited about unbreakable screens.  My current carry is a galaxy note II and the screen on that thing is just begging to be cracked.
Taimoor Zubair   OEMs Seek Unbreakable Phones   9/17/2013 7:16:22 AM
Handy
Now this is something to look forward to. I broke the screen of my iphone twice. Got a screen replacements the first time but decided it was too costly and instead bought a new smartphone the second time. Doesn't happen to everyone, some people find smartphones to be very reliable in terms of structure, and plastic covers afford extra protection as well. While that is true, I wouldn't say no to an unbreakable phone myself knowing what a klutz i tend to be sometimes.


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