The Repairable Phone
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Here's an interesting web posting regarding a crusade to develop a phone design made up of replaceable components, allowing a cell phone user to replace a component (which caused the phone to not work OR to upgrade its capabilities) as opposed to our current practice of throwing it away and buying a new one:

This web site shows the concept very clearly, asks for the public to join the crusade, and points out how much of our household waste is increased by throwing away entire phones when only one component is defective.

When you think about this, dust off your 'old' TRIZ contradiction table and ask yourself, what problem are we trying to solve? And what would this simplest of TRIZ tools have suggested decades ago?

Well, what are we trying to improve? "Repairability" is one characteristic. Another might be "Duration of action of a stationary object". What gets worse when we try to improve these functions? A couple of parameters seem obvious. One is "Manufacturability". Another is "System Complexity". When we look at the inventive principles suggested, we see (among others): Preliminary Action, "Nested Doll", "Taking Out/Separation", and "Self Service". When you watch the video make notes about how many times you see these concepts used and then ask yourself, "What kept this kind of design from being adopted decades ago? Part of the answer, that you have also heard in our workshops, is societal and political.

It's always, up until now, been cheaper and easier to throw the phone away and simply buy a new one. If our societal goals change and there is a regulation or tax requiring a different approach, then things change. TRIZ can't deal with these sorts of issues, only point out the answers if someone is interested in really solving a problem. It will be interesting to see what happens in this case!

Next public TRIZ workshop for ASME/AIChE is in New Orleans, December 11-13 at the Hyatt Regency on Loyola Avenue.

Course includes the latest book on getting started with TRIZ, now at a special price through the Altshuller TRIZ Institute:

We will be in the following areas over the next few months: Houston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Knoxville, and New Orleans. Also, we will be making presentations at the upcoming Mexican TRIZ Association meeting in Merida, Mexico:

Keep running toward your contradictions (and let us know if we can help!)