Smash, trash and bash

Gadgets undergo seriously threatening testing at Singapore's National University, in the name of a tougher future.

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By  Kate Concannon Published  July 29, 2002

Researchers — including the dubiously named Dr Shim — at Singapore’s National University have set up a crash test lab for the purpose of systematically destroying mobile phones.

But there’s more than just mindless but joyful trashing of expensive equipment going on: this team is working hard to ascertain the strengths and weaknesses of phones so as to develop more rugged phones in the future. In fact, they hope their systematic approach will lead, eventually, to the creation of handsets that are virtually unbreakable.

They have developed a unique method of torture for the electronic victims that come their way: a guillotine-like contraption to simulate the impact that occurs when devices are dropped on the floor.

Results collected from experiments with hundreds of phone models reveal that damage to the LCD and battery connections is most frequent, and this, in turn, causes the phone to turn itself on and off against the user’s will in a worrying 80% of cases.

The team of professors has established a company, Robust Dynamics, through which they are developing new materials to aid durability and other related solutions. But their work doesn’t finish there. There are whole categories of products whose breakability is yet to be explored — and overcome.

Professor Lim stated: “After mobile phones, we will move on to smash handheld computers and also digital cameras.” (Chuckling gleefully): “There are so many gadgets out there that we can smash and destroy.”

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