The consumer market has already seen a wide variety of iPhone cases and technological accessories made out of bamboo, but now a 23 year-old Middlesex University student named Kieron-Scott Woodhouse has taken the trend a step farther by designing the first smart phone with an all-bamboo casing.
Woodhouse was commissioned to design the new phone for a company called ADzero. He reports that the external material was not a primary aspect of the design, and that the choice of bamboo grew out of the process of deciding what would be best for the product and the company. Two considerations led to the genesis of this unique bamboo phone. Whatever they came up with, ADzero was going to have it manufactured in China, so Woodhouse says that they looked for locally sourced materials. In that way, ADzero is following the same impulses as the German toymaker Hape, which we reported on earlier.
The second concern, naturally enough, was for the environment. Those involved in the creation of the bamboo phone wanted to avoid a major environmental impact, and Woodhouse recognized bamboo as being an exceptionally sustainable natural alternative, and found that it could be made just as durable as any plastic. From there, Woodhouse and ADzero realized the design and manufacture of a smart phone that is already making headlines for its unusual, ecologically friendly construction even before details have been given regarding its release.
What we do know is that it was originally slated to be sold only in China, but that it will now be carried in boutique stores within the United Kingdom as well. No doubt this is because the creators quickly realized the growing appeal of environmentally sustainable products and of bamboo in particular in Western countries. Indeed, recognition of the value and diverse applications of bamboo seems to grow on a daily basis. This latest product goes a long way toward showcasing how much the resource has taken off amongst designers and manufacturers.
Using it for cases and large accessories has demonstrated how it can be creatively used as an alternative wood. This latest step, however, shows that it can also stand in for plastic and metal. Using bamboo as a building material allows it to serve as a surrogate for both woods and metals. The reception of the Bamboo ADzero will make it clearer to what extent consumers are ready to accept slightly less conventional uses of the resource.
It may take a little more time before people widely recognize viscose from bamboo for its value as an alternative to familiar fabrics like cotton, but it seems clear that we are moving in that direction. Bamboo is coming to be a household word in a widening variety of consumer markets. The same material can make some of the hardest casings for protection of our devices and the softest towels and sheets for the care and comfort of our bodies. And in both cases, it does wonders for our conscience or our spirit by serving as both the building material and the clothing of a more sustainable future.