The idea of user upgradeable laptops isn’t entirely new. As I spoke about in the podcast back in January, the most promising effort to open up the hardware architecture of portables is aimed more at suppliers than consumers but still holds promise.
Slashdot links to a story on Gizmag in that same vein, though user upgradeability was once again a secondary concern. A student project at Stanford, the Bloom laptop, was developed more to tackle the challenges of recycling mobile computers whose components are often literally glued very tightly together.
As part of Stanford’s ME310 industrial design course, design software maker Autodesk asked the students to create an easily-recyclable consumer electronics product, using the company’s software. What they came up with was the Bloom laptop, which can be completely disassembled by hand, in under 30 seconds, and in ten steps. By contrast, a traditional laptop requires three tools, up to 120 steps, and takes about 45 minutes.
The Bloom design has the additional benefit that a user can disassemble–and upgrade–it. It also allows for some more desktop like affordances, like being able to separate the keyboard and trackpad from the CPU. It really seems to be more of a hybrid machine, as a consequence, that is portable more as a consequence of its slim size.
If a concept like the Bloom could be married to advances in materials that used fewer, or even no, toxic or scarce materials, we’d be well on our way to truly sustainable computing. Sadly, there is no indication in the article if Autodesk, which sponsored the contest, will help the students bring their design to market.