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This transparent speaker has built-in sensors that detect when parts need to be replaced, repaired or updated, and notifies users via their smartphones. The Small Transparent Speaker was designed and launched on Kickstarter by Stockholm studio People People. It is intended as a reaction against excessive consumer waste, particularly electronic waste. “Consumer products are too quickly becoming waste and mostly dumped in landfills,” the studio said. “There is a full football field of electronic waste generated every minute.

This linear system has to stop. According to the designers, every speaker purchased is helping to promote a closed-loop industry where products and their materials have the potential to last forever. Made completely from recycled materials, the speaker can be totally disassembled to allow for each specific part to be replaced. If it should need repairing, users are alerted and instructed on what to do via an app on their smartphone. Broken products that can’t be repaired at home would be sent back to the manufacturers to be looked at more closely.

To allow this, they would be encased in packaging that can be refolded to expose the prepaid return shipping label. “Even though it might seem unusual and counterintuitive to talk about scenarios of product failure now when the product is brand new, we believe that is exactly what we need to do,” said People People. “By considering potential ways the product might break, and designing the product to outsmart the landfill in these cases, we can make a big difference.

“The Transparent Speaker features “premium” audio components, including two custom-made drivers that the studio claims provides lifelike vocals. Made up of hardened glass sides and a white-coated aluminium frame, the minimal speaker is designed to blend in with any home environment. A volume adjustment knob is located on its front, along with a rocker power switch, a LED that shows when the speaker is on, and a cable jack. Wifi and Bluetooth enabled, the speaker can connect to phones, tablets, or computers to allow users to wirelessly stream audio.

The device also supports Apple Airplay and Google Cast. The wireless connectivity also means the product’s software can be remotely updated by the studio. The concept behind the Small Transparent Speaker mirrors that of the ethically-produced Fairphone, which is designed to be easily taken apart and repaired to increase its lifespan – similar to Google’s Project Ara prototype – as an alternative to fast-moving smartphone trends.

Design: People People

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