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Circular Economy – why we are part of it (2)

We are designing an open-source mini computer as a product for Circular Economy. Why?

One team – one goal

Our team includes experts from different fields of design, engineering, communication as well as social and cultural studies all driven by the idea of bringing change to the current status quo of (electronic) product development. Some of us worked for brands and companies already supporting a sustainable product development and lifestyle (Patagonia) others came from out of space (Aerospace Engineering) or already designed an open-source laptop (MNT Reform).

We met by chance working in a department for modular product development of a medium-sized enterprise where we enjoyed working as an interdisciplinary team in an iterative way. But developing modular products for companies that size also came with a lot of internal and external rules and restrictions. Quick decisions and rapid prototypes were rare, the freedom of choosing partners was limited and implementing a more sustainable, circular approach for product development was either very slow or not supported at all. Making an impact within a company that size which was running business internationally since decades was almost impossible. But we still wanted to contribute to the change to a more sustainable development of electronic products. So at one point we chose the freedom of developing a product the way we imagine it over the secure surrounding of a well established company. And here we are.

Open Source state of mind

The idea of developing Pocket Reform was a process. The overall goal of democratising knowledge and contributing to open source product development was backed as a part of our team was involved in developing MNT Reform. The idea for this portable personal computer came from the need to better understand and take control of the device for reasons of security, curiosity or the desire for personal customisation and hackability. That need was translated into a modular laptop that can be fully understood, repaired, taken apart and adapted for personal use cases by the user. To enable all of that, it was crucial that the laptop was also open source.

Since then the idea of building a sustainable device and implementing a circular approach to electronic development was around. Pocket Reform is thought as Reforms sustainable sibling. With this mini computer we try to aim for the principles of Reform laptop combined with the ones of  Circular Economy.

Collaborate for change

Investigating Circular Economy we know it will not be easy to develop Pocket Reform the way we imagine it. Although initiatives like the European Green Deal, an action plan to make the EU’s economy sustainable and a Eco-design guideline adopted 2019 which should ensure that all electronics manufacturers respect the right to repair which means that consumers have open access to knowledge and spare parts in order to repair their own appliances, are supporting our undertaking. However, large manufacturers are still focusing on more integrable and lighter technologies which stand in the way of sustainable and repairable design.

We won’t be able to change this on our own but we believe in the power of interdisciplinary collaboration and exchange with other experts, teams and coaches with different backgrounds as well as with likeminded people we meet along the way.

Currently our project is funded by the Berliner Start-Up Stipendium supported by the City of Berlin and the European Union.

We feel developing Pocket Reform is a necessary step to make in the right direction and hopefully our iterative and transparent development approach will be an inspiration for others.

Have an idea, suggestion or simply want to chat ? Drop us a line.