Dave’s Phone Blok – Invention takes digital world by storm

He had a dream and that has come true: Why throw away, for example, your faulty mobile if you can at least rework its components and make something new out of it? Yes, that is what 29-year-old graduate in Industrial Design Dave Hakkens did and now his device called ‘Phoneblok’, a modular mobile phone, is the rage all around the globe. It has 10 lakh supporters, nearly 40 crore social reach, six lakh social followers and 18 lakh Youtube viewers.


He tries to make the world better by making things. To achieve this, whether it is an inspirational video, machines to recycle plastic or a phone concept, he does not really care. He uses instagram to shoot pictures and uses twitter for everything. He lives in Helmond in the Netherlands.

Read again. His phone concept has now taken the digital world by storm. On September 10, 2013, he published a video on `Phonebloks’. It now has 10 lakh supporters, nearly 40 crore social reach, six lakh social followers and 18 lakh Youtube viewers. Phonebloks is now the most trending phrase in mobile world, forcing the mobile giant Motorola (now owned by Google) to invite him.

Welcome Dave Hakkens, the 29-year-old graduate in Industrial Design. His innovative and unique designs practically entice people to believe there is more to invent than thought of.Dave-Hakkens-portrait-Design-Academy-Eindhoven_dezeen_01

What Dave has designed is simple by any means: He has designed a modular mobile phone. All the parts like camera, battery, RAM, memory, ports, screen and chip can be detached and replaced on the fly. Just unlock the mobile, slide them out, take a new one and slide it in; lock again and voila: you have an upgraded spare part, without changing the mobile itself. It is like blocks of Lego.

It all started when Dave’s old Canon compact camera’s lens-motor broke and he could not be fixed. All the other working parts like display, flash, battery, little gears, etc., could be retained. He thought a moment: `When you have a flat tire, you don’t throw away your bike, you fix it. This method creates a lot of e-waste, I wish to see if I could bring any help in fixing it.’ Being a designer himself, Dave had no issues with burning midnight oil to invent this.

Motorola aims to do something for the mobile hardware what the Android platform has done for the computer software. It has decided to create a vibrant third party developer ecosystem and lower the barriers of entry, promote innovation and squeeze the development schedule. Named as Project Ara, this scheme is aimed at developing a free, open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones. In fact, it was also heard that Motorola too came up with an idea similar to Dave’s. But when Dave launched his crowd movement to pressurise mobile companies to develop a universally acceptable format, it invited Dave himself to lead the project. The social media’s viral movement had its desired effect!

A graduate from Design Academy Eindhoven, Dave Hakkens is a design freak. He has invented a book-looking extension plug, wind oil extraction unit, recycled rubble floors, customised memo blocks, eatable pens, break soaps, and what not. His website is full of path-breaking unique designs.

In an email conversation with me, Dave shared his views: `People throw away a lot of good components by throwing the phone itself. The real reason would be the irreparable one single item. But in my phone, designed on the lines of Phoneblok concept, you can only throw away components that are actually broken, or need repairing or upgrading.

Some Disadvantages

Sceptics worry that this idea of Phonebloks, instead of reducing the e-waste, may actually expand the exponentially growing e-waste. But supporters vouch for Dave’s innovative approach and say he will come back with solutions for such issues too.

The other important issue is about data transfer within the Phoneblok, as the unit is an assortation of different tools, reducing the data transmission by several microseconds.

Dave Hakkens’ idea may have its own lapses. Like in the first generation PC game DAVE, he too may face demons on all the corners waiting to eat him. But considering his success elsewhere and his commitment to design, the best will take him to new heights; that is what analysts say.

To know more on Dave Hakkens visit: www.davehakkens.nl

D a v e ’ s d e s i g n s


Usually when a building/bathroom/shed, etc. is being demolished, a completely new one takes its place. This is done without leaving any trace of what has been there before, perhaps a little picture on the wall and that’s it. Dave was inspired by the terrazzo floors. He did several tests with different materials and made a selection of which materials are possible. He used crushed bricks and roof tiles as a pigment. Between 20 and 30% of new cement is added to bind everything to one solid floor which can last 100th of years. In the end he made three different examples of what it could look like, but basically any combination is possible.


Dave has made an oil pressing machine which works only on wind energy. The machine is made to press nuts and seeds such as walnuts, peanuts, sesame seeds, linseeds, hazelnuts. The wind power is transformed with a worm drive to make the movement slow but very powerful. Dave gathers some nuts and puts them in the machine. When the machine starts pressing, he just sits back and relaxes. The leftover pulp is full of protein, great for cooking or feed animals and plants with. The machine doesn’t use heat, which means good pure cold pressed oil is produced. The oil is put into old (soy sauce and dressing) bottles, labelled and sealed with a cork.


This little block can collect these things on one central place. Write it on with a whiteboard marker and wipe it off when it’s done. It’s designed in a way that you can make one yourself, using materials around your house. Old cardboard is used for building the shape.


Dave’s goal was to create a little extension cord for the small in-house jobs. Like charging your laptop, drilling a hole, connecting a lamp, etc. The plugbook is made in the shape of a book which hides itself between your other books. When you need it, just take it out and pull the cord. Inside the book is a 10 feet/3 metre cable. When you don’t need it anymore, you press the button and the cord automatically rewinds.