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101 Uses for Dead Mobile Devices
Image: ALT1040

Summer 2012. Holiday time for millions. MBF Blog keeps a watching brief on the summer technology/social/hot topic stories you might want to keep in touch with…..

Something else to ponder on your summer holidays, as you wonder if you can afford the calls, or of you realise you may still be charged just because your phone has travelled overseas? Or whether you really need to pester staff at work about things you have forgotten/need to know/can’t wait to find out?

You could sit there in the heat/cold/rain and consider just how useful and ubiquitous your smartphone has become. Alternatively, if you’re not on holidays, or are taking a virtual vacation you could be one of the 35% of users who apparently grab their smartphones before anything else every morning.

Phone Calls Are So Yesterday

Paul Simon famously sang about 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover and then sang only about 17. Well, now we hear of the ways that people are using smartphones. And making what used to be called ‘telephone’ calls is way down the list at number 5!

Ahead of that humble task comes browsing the web, tweeting, playing various computer games and listening to music!

Below that are alarm clocks, watches, still and movie cameras, diaries and actual computers and GPS on it. Don’t also forget that every app can potentially open up the device to many other uses. You can watch watch TV progs and films on it, you can listen to the radio through it.

In the spirit of A Hundred and One Uses for a Dead Cat, the 1981 book of macabre cartoons by Michael Bond, are there parallels between a smartphone and a dead cat?

Anchoring boats, holding bottles of wine or sharpening pencils? Possibly not. Doorstop/wedge? Maybe. Bookend, ice skate, shoe-scraper, rake, windscreen scraper, weapon, dart, pendulum, shot putt, oar, rubber stamp, wall ornament and artistic object, mmm?

Just How Many Uses?

Since that book, there have been 101 Uses of Every Day Things, a Quadratic Equation, Duct Tape, a Facilitator, a Paper Clip, a Rubber Band, Rubik’s Cube, ‘My Ex’ Wife’s Wedding Dress’, a Sonic Screwdriver, old phone books, Canned Air and a Dead Roach.

The Christian Science Monitor website of all places offers 10 of ‘the weirdest’ uses for a smartphone. You can solve a Rubik’s Cube as the current generation of iPhones and Androids have processors 500 times faster than the Apollo Lunar Module, so a Cube problem is do-able in split seconds. Same for a Sudoku puzzle.

They also suggest creating fine art, avoid speed traps with an app called Trapster, perform live music with a backing sound on the subway, pilot an augmented reality drone quadricopter or a satellite you have made, monitor earthquakes, blow out a candle with fan-assistance application or annoy a teenager with Annoy-a-Teen that emits a tone inaudible to anybody over about 18.

More serious suggestions for old Wi-Fi compatible devices including converting them to dedicated Skype phones, using them as remote controls for computers and media centres,  portable audio devices. Use them as e-readers! USB storage and cameras can all be utilised in some ways. Unless you want to sell them on for recycling or give them straight to charity.

Of course, as yet it’s not advisable to take your smartphone into the shower with you (though most claim to be waterproof) and you are not allowed to take one into an MRI scanner with you to while away the hours if your thinking dries up. But it may yet come in time.


Christian Science Monitor, 10 Weirdest uses for a smartphone.