Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I Printed My Own Phone; Gadgets off to a Festival but Don't Fancy Losing Your Mobile? Joshi Herrmann Creates a Pocket Size Replica to Suit His Tastes -- and Budget

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I Printed My Own Phone; Gadgets off to a Festival but Don't Fancy Losing Your Mobile? Joshi Herrmann Creates a Pocket Size Replica to Suit His Tastes -- and Budget

Article excerpt

Byline: Joshi Herrmann

IN THE time it would take you to print out a few copies of a Power-Point presentation at work, a shop just off Upper Street will now print you a mobile phone. Admittedly, quite a basic one -- without a camera, screen or a function that wirelessly syncs your music across multiple devices -- but nevertheless a thing that makes calls to other phone numbers of your choice.

According to its owner Tom Sunderland, 34, it is "the world's first mobilephone printing shop", and he shows me around the bright store he has just opened in Angel's Business Design Centre with pride. There are iPads mounted on a desk in the front of the store for customers to design the phone they want, and the machine that does the heavy lifting is a big grey contraption at the back, which, according to Sunderland, is worth more than a small car.

He started his company OwnFone in the Hackney council flat he was renting in 2008, having developed the idea of a very simple, customisable mobile phone as a student at the Royal College of Art. Until now his phones -- which are about the size of credit cards and not much thicker -- have been popular with festival-goers because of their relative disposability, marathon runners because of their lightness and easy 999 buttons, and the elderly because making a call involves little more than pressing a big pre-programmed button with the person's name -- or even photograph -- on it. Until now they have only been available online but now punters can come in to print their phones live.

Sunderland sits me down at one of the iPads ("phone builders"), and I start designing one of the world's first custom-printed mobile phones. First there is the choice of how many buttons (and therefore call recipients -- it's one-button-one-contact here) I want, from four to 12. Then button texture: word-buttons (with the contact's name), image buttons (with their face) or 3D buttons (either braille or raised dots).

Then I can choose the shape of the buttons, their colour, their transparency, whether they are outlined, and other such minor aesthetic options. I choose a psychedelic pattern as my background but could equally have uploaded a picture of my cat. …

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