You may one day buy a phone that assembled itself

Self-assembling phone

Sure, you've heard of phones you can build yourself using modules, such as Google's Project Ara, but what about a phone that assembles on its own?

The aptly named Self-Assembly Lab at MIT has come up with a cell phone that puts itself together, Fast Company reports, a process that could revolutionize how handsets - or anything, really - are made.

In the lab's process, various phone parts go inside a cement mixer-like tumbler, and as the components are tossed around they eventually form into functional devices.

Self-assembling phone

Credit: Fast Company

There's really no magic to it: the components have lock-and-key mechanisms and magnets that only allow parts that are supposed to stick together to stay stuck. Self-Assembly Lab Co-Director Skylar Tibbits tells Fast Company all the pieces are there, so to speak, to scale the process up for mass production.

Yes, the phone's design brings a whole new meaning to "rough and tumble", but the implications here are in manufacturing. It could further automate how phones are made, and companies would be able use sorters that are already sifting through components to put handsets together.

What's more, it could lead to ultimate design freedom - phones that build themselves could come in as many sizes and shapes as the parts allow, creating unique handsets for users from the same materials.

As with many jobs that are being taken over by machines, MIT's process would, unfortunately, likely lead to people losing work. It could however save companies money, which might drive down the cost of phones for consumers.

Self-assembling phones are still in the early stages, but we'll see if the trend ever catches on.

Top image credit: Fast Company

Michelle Fitzsimmons

Michelle was previously a news editor at TechRadar, leading consumer tech news and reviews. Michelle is now a Content Strategist at Facebook.  A versatile, highly effective content writer and skilled editor with a keen eye for detail, Michelle is a collaborative problem solver and covered everything from smartwatches and microprocessors to VR and self-driving cars.