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Concept development for sustainable offering and situation analysis

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Concept development for sustainable offering and situational analysis


Due to advancement in communication technology, smartphones production is increasing in each every day. This is because smartphones have a variety of communication benefits thus having a significant number of consumers. According to Pew Research Centre (2015), 64% of Americans use smart phones, a rise from 58% in 2014. This increased use of smartphones is associated with also a rise in the environmental impact as more will be disposed after some months when a new model with more sophisticated features is a vailed to the market [ CITATION Tse14 l 1033 ]. However, these devices have various environmental hazards like emission of radioactive wastes which if not addressed properly can be a catastrophe for the future generation [ CITATION Coy14 l 1033 ]. In that case, various sustainable concepts should be addressed.

In the group assignment three the sustainable offering concept for these problem, extremely well is the new modular technology Google Company and large smartphones companies like Samsung and LG has designed to produce customized phones [ CITATION Jen14 l 1033 ]. In these concepts, the companies have introduced a way of making various phone components at a different configuration that can be bought independently which suits one’s gadget. This is the best idea since people do not have to buy different phones when the old one wears out. But the worn-out parts only reducing the amount of waste dispatched in a given time. The assumption of this concept is that the cost will be reduced creating a larger number of consumers hence the waste production may also increase[CITATION Pej15 l 1033 ]. This idea should have also explained the need of recycling the removed old components.

In addition, the Google Company and cell phones companies have provided a way which outdated phones can be upgraded and customized into new models. Updating the old smartphones into current software will be a great deal since it does not only reduce production of some worn out parts but also the whole phone thus minimizing waste produced [ CITATION Tse14 l 1033 ].

The other sustainable concept provided by assessment three is the use of solar energy to charge smartphones. Solar energy is an environmental friendly which does rarely produce highly harmful radiations as compared to other forms of energy. Furthermore, solar energy is consistent and so convenient where the sun is available. However the idea has various assumptions, one is that the weather will always be being sunny, or amount of sunlight available will be consisted. The other assumptions are that solar phones also wear out amounting to devices with more waste than ordinary and also people may not like the idea of spending their time in the sun charging phones. The solution should have included solar phones which have long lasting batteries and less power usage to make room for convenience.

One is that the problem addresses the crucial issue in current technology. The solution offered can be implemented since they look real and logic. Whole problem is more smart and accessible to prevent the problem other than dealing with one concept.

Sustainable Offering

The product which I have selected is smartphones. Smartphone market is growing rapidly as it has become a primary communication tool. The major problem when it comes to smart phone are electronic waste. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), e-waste poisoning has become a major environmental hazard, as overtime these waste can be radioactive. According to statistic annually 1.7billion smartphone are being used globally, but only 10-12 percent make it to a recycle Centre. And also we have to consider all the time, money and cost that goes into manufacturing and shipping brand new phones across the globe and digging the ground for all the raw materials. And the energy consumption of the phones are having a huge environmental effect, as the main ingredient is lithium which has major health effects.

A current smartphone uses about 4.9kwh/0.53USD, that amount might seem little, but if we consider the astronomical amount of smartphones used around the world the carbon footprint is massive.

The sustainable offering for this problem is the new modular technology, where each part of the phone can be taken off and customized. Currently google is working on a customizable phone known as project Ara which is still on development stage. Here instead of buying an entire smart phone you can purchase the frame of the phone or the “exoskeleton” where the antenna, radios, RAM and other electrical components are located. And you can purchase the display or secondary displays, battery, camera, speakers and other components at different configurations which suits your budget. And other tech giants such as Samsung and LG are working on similar advance technologies, where the ram, processor and other internal components can be customized. Through this technology the wastage of outdated smartphones can be reduced drastically as people do not need to buy a new phone each year, where each module can be customized and this can be used to answer different market segments as these phones can be customized according to people’s preferences and their budgets. And the cost including building a whole new phone and shipping cost can be reduced, where smartphones will be more affordable for people and the outdated modules can be recycled or upgraded into the latest products. And another way to solve the environment and energy problem is using of solar energy to charge the smartphones, this is clean sustainable energy. Many leading tech giants are working on solar powered phones but only little advancements has being made on this sector, For example, a Chinese company has built a smartphone with a built in solar panel, but the energy harvested from the panels are only capable of powering the phone for a short period of time. With the help of these sustainable solution more environmental and health friendly smartphones can be built in the future where people will be more willing to buy and the production cost can be reduced which eventually leads to higher profit margins.

Problem Identification

Studies have shown that smartphones have an impact to the environment throught emission of Green House Gases such as Carbon dioxide which contributes to global warming, toxicity due to the elements us in their manufacture and metal depletion due to extensive mining for enough metal to meet the rising demand for smartphones [ CITATION Erc14 l 1033 ]. The more complex a phone is, the more GHG emission is associated with it. This is due to the energy used in the manufacture process where more materials are involved in the process. According to Guvendik (2014), smartphones undergo a four stage lifecycle where each stage is characterized by change in the energy consumption and the associated impact on the environment. Extraction and manufacture is the first stage and is associated with high GHG emission. The use phase follows in terms of GHG emission as this stage is associated with increased use of energy through charging of the device [ CITATION Guv14 l 1033 ].

Problem Delineation

The environmental impact due to smartphone use and manufacture is on the rise since the manufacturers keep on advancing to more sophisticated devices which consume much power and thus more effect to the environment. This problem will be reduced if renewable energy sources are used to power and also in the process of extraction and manufacture of these devices [ CITATION Suc15 l 1033 ]. The rapid increase in smartphones in the market has contributed to an increase in used phone parts in the environment where not all of them are recycled as most users prefer to keep them instead of selling to those that can recycle. This will not only earn cash to the owner of the used phone but also help in conservation of energy as it is requires less energy to recycle an old product than to process a new part.

Information Gathering

Wireless charging of mobile phones is estimated to become as abundant as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth [ CITATION Rai16 l 1033 ]. This method makes use of renewable solar energy thus environmentally friendly and does not require the user to sit proximal to the power source. Apart from saving energy, this charging method also is convenient as it does not require one to use a specific charger for a particular phone. It can be used anywhere for any phone.

Through advancements in research, a solar powered smartphone has been produced but it has efficiency of only 19% [ CITATION Eny14 l 1033 ]. Solar batteries produce electricity by photoelectric effect and they have a longer lifetime compared to Lithium Ion batteries which has specific criteria for charging and can easily get damaged easily.

Idea Generation

Solar powered smartphones will solve the challenge posed by increased use of smartphones that has increased energy expenditure and depletion of the natural resource as more material is needed to produce more devices. This technique will use the sun’s energy to charge phone batteries and it will be used in any part especially those with little access to electricity.

Another idea to reduce the environment pollution arising from smartphone use is through generation of modules that can be used to replace or upgrade the non-functional modules in the smartphones. This will prevent dumping of used smartphones for new ones with better features as the best features can be upgraded in the old frame [ CITATION Yew14 l 1033 ].

Idea Evaluation

Use of solar energy to power smartphones is the best way to preserve energy that is associated with the increased demand for it due to increased use of smartphones. Economically, it is friendly as the sun is readily available and it does not get depleted. The consumption of electricity will reduce and the associated GHG emission associated with its production will be reduced. The thermal emissions will be minimized and this translates to energy conservation.

The energy will be accessible to all the users irrespective of location and it will the power source of choice as one does not have to be near the source of power and remote places without connection to electricity especially in most African Countries will benefit from this solar energy. The energy loss associated with long distance of transmission of electricity will be minimized by use of solar energy which is produced and used at everywhere and does not require to transmitted over long distances as the sun is available all over the globe. This supply can be used uninterrupted for 24 hours as the energy is used directly during the day while at night the Li-ion battery will sustain the power the next day.

The challenge with this power supply is that it is limited to places to places with adequate sunshine and place with less solar energy will not benefit as much.

Modular smartphones focus on flexibility and ability of manufacturers to adapt the new market demands. Using integrated hardware reduces the size of the user’s electronics but it not give a chance for new change like introduction of a new application and when the user wants to adopt, he/she is forced to purchase a new device, rendering the initial devise useless. The rise in outdated versions of smartphones which impacts negatively on the environment can be solved by the modular hardware which upgrades only a specific part thus contributing to a minimal environmental impact.

Reference list

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Enyi, F. & Ifezuluke, F. N., 2014. Efficient Solar Powered Smartphone For Nigeria’s Telecom Advancement. Computer Engineering and Intelligence Systems, pp. 2561-2578.

Ercan, E. M., 2014. Global Warming Potential of a Smartphone, Stockholm: Royal Institute of Technology.

Guvendik, M., 2014. From Smartphone to Futurephone: assessing the environmental impacts of Different cellular economy scenarios of a smartphone using LCA., s.l.: Delft University of Technology and Leiden University.

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Rai, H. M., Sisodiya, P. & Agrawal, I., 2016. Design of Solar Powered Wireless Charger for Smartphones. International Reseach journal of Research Journal of Engineering and Technology, pp. 1278-1281.

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Yewale, S. R. & Chandrasekharan, R., 2014. ATAP’s Modular Smartphone platform. international Business Times, pp. 1-5.