What should we build next?

We asked this on twitter as well, but I am curious what folks here want: When we say we’re remaking consumer electronics, we mean all of it (eventually). What products beyond laptops do you want to see upgradeable, customizable, repairable versions of?

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Printers! There isn’t a single consumer grade printer I can buy that doesn’t have some or all of the following issues:

  • Expensive cartridges that are increasingly made irreplaceable by third party providers.
  • Ink spit tanks that long before they’re filled up require proprietary counter reset, resulting in inconvenience and cost to service.
  • Expensive or non-servicable parts, forcing to throw away the entire printer.
  • Print nozzles that clog up beyond repair for the so called “refillable” printers.
  • Awful software and driver experience.
  • Awful connectivity and software feature support.

In addition to the issues above, most are nowhere near portable. If all you need is a printer (and not a multi-function), why the gigantic enclosures that need desk space. I have seen super compact inkjets so I know they are possible, but certainly not common and thus expensive.

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Repairable / serviceable / upgradable true wireless ANC earbuds and headphones. They’re the worst, IMO when it comes to their lifespan due to the sealed batteries (in the buds, and in the case).

…maybe partner with Crinacle to get the tuning done, or / and with B&O or B&W for styling, add some Comply foams and some quality BAs.

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I think modular mices are hard to find. Maybe controllers too.

Funny ideas would be those handheld consoles like the Steam Deck, I guess we can shrink the mainboard maybe. Running games at 720p or 800p with the current hardware of the Framework should be possible I think.

Or maybe some kind of Intel NUC to reuse mainboards with a more beefy cooler than what is on the laptop model.

A keyboard+touch pad that is KVM enabled, even a KVM Framework like a NexDock maybe? The latter probably reuses the whole Framework except for the mainboard I would imagine.

Oh wait, maybe modular headphones/speakers too but the headphones might end up really heavy or have very difficult (easy to break) tiny parts to reach into.

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A modular dock. As thunderbolt moves forward or connectors change entirely, the dock would change. I could keep the same case for years, with only occasional minor changes. Likewise a Framework approved and designed modular EGPU, or better yet the dock can slide into the EGPU to provide most of the ports for it. Buy the dock, need an EGPU later, buy the dock for the dock. Take along one or both depending on need. Make sure the EGPU comes with a nice folding/hidden carry handle for easy transport.

Better yet use laptop DGPU chips as a module for the dock. Ultra-compact graphics dock. Skip the handle, full sized graphics card, and SFX power supply, or better yet make both to fill both needs, and make both EGPU modules compatible with the same dock.

How is that for some low hanging fruit?

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Well, since Fairphone doesn’t sell in the US and uses kinda outdated parts, there is an opportunity to create a Pixel competitor. Software is the real challenge. Linux on mobile is essentially dead which makes me sad. The only projects worth talking about in that arena are Pinephone and Librem 5 and the Librem 5 is essentially vaporware (I know some have been delivered…but long after the originally delivery date). I’d kill for something comparable to a Pixel but degoogled and Linux friendly. Doubt it’s feasible tho.

Printers have been mentioned before and for good reason. A router that is linux friendly, repairable and upgradable would be much more possible. It plays to your strengths making mainboards, similarly allows for mainboard upgrades in a given chassis and would be an instant buy from me.

Not something that can be really “upgraded” but a decent “non-smart” tv would be cool

Above all however, do not neglect your core product to branch into other product categories. This is one of the things that Purism drew criticism for.

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I remember considering to support it but seeing how the hardware performance and software features being so subpar, and I remember it was heavier. I decided to give it a pass.

I hope they don’t forget their core product too.

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I feel your pain. After two years of tinkering with PinePhone I gave up and got Pixel 5 with /e/ as a deGoogled Android.

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A Thunderbolt dock with slots for the already existing expansion cards.

A portable external display, maybe also with slots for expansion cards. You could reuse the existing LCD.

A (wireless) mechanical keyboard. If wired, with slots for expansion cards.

A (wireless) mouse or trackpad.

A tablet.

Smart monitors or TVs.

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Not to knock on that 3d printed project, but a FrameTab which actually uses the touch-capable bits on the Mainboard eDP connector (and in turn gives the Framework Laptop an option to have a touchscreen) would be nice.

Speaking of, securing more options for the Framework Laptop over time would be nice - matte screens, AMD processors, ARM?, so on; the various things asked for - would be nice.

I wouldn’t be opposed to Framework “Accessories” - ie, things in the typical “desktop” mold reborn as modular components like the Laptop; monitors, speakers, mice, keyboards (honestly, an adapter that turns the Input Cover into a standalone wireless USB keyboard seems so patently obvious I’m surprised it doesn’t exist already). Ways to reuse parts of the Framework Laptop in the mold of these various parts would also help for that - the aforementioned Input Cover USB Keyboard, an external monitor that uses that DP-to-eDP adapter you all found on this thread orderable through Framework rather than Aliexpress, so on.

Ways to alter and “Swiss Army knife” the laptop - people have asked for a “ruggedized” case or asked for slip-cases and other things - things often put out by third-parties for Macbooks and other laptops - why can’t Framework put out first-party ones? One of the most surprising things about the Merch section is there isn’t a Framework Laptop Carry Case, Framework Laptop Carry Bag, and Framework Backpack up there - hell, you have investment from Linus Sebastian, maybe call him and see if you can’t brand his Backpack as your own, split the sales or something. On the topic of merch, Framework branded mousepad?

This is just from “vibing” with the community forums here on what could be done.

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I’m going to double back and double post 'cause editing doesn’t ping properly - but if we find more such Aliexpress boards like the one listed maybe setting up a way to order said boards through Framework rather than Aliexpress would be an idea? I know we’re not so much “redefining” computer electronics there as expanding what can be done with the computer electronics you’re already “redefining” but come on - what’s the point of modularity if the only “modules” are the ones in the standard config? Can you imagine if they only put out one Technic set?

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Sure: User repairability is very attractive but without fairtrade it’s rather hollow :frowning:

I would really like a touch screen option a tablet or anything.

A Phone ?? I’m not sure how you could compete with Fairphone as the draw there is Fairtrade so

I don’t really want any more electronics but will be drawn to anything that puts Fairtrade as the prioroity. So most of my finances go on Fairtrade Organic Rum from Paraguay :slight_smile: @ £32 a bottle

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This might be a bit funny considering who @nrp is, but I think the time is actually pretty ripe for an open/modular XR headset.

The industry is dominated by a few giant companies that are only interested in building walled gardens (Meta, Bytedance, and soon Apple) with completely monolithic consumer products, and while there are some small companies like Lynx, Simula, Shiftall showing just how far one can get with tiny teams doing cool stuff, it seems like none of them are designing with upgradability or customizability in mind.

  • So much study has been done on how faces vary, and how to make comfortable facial interfaces for different facial structures, but no one offers customizability or swappability of the frame or facial interfaces
  • There are lots of options for optics/displays, but it seems a bit weird that you can’t swap them out (I mean, even if you had to do the entire visor unit that’d be ok, but as we move towards more goggle-like form like the Shiftall MeganeX it seems even weirder no one’s doing this) - some people want FOV for immersion, and some want PPD for working with text. There’s a huge stream of new displays/optics at different price points but it seems like as a consumer you just don’t get any choice in the matter.
  • Basic stuff like wired/wireless tethering, or being able to upgrade AIO compute all seems like a gimme
  • Lots of headsets already designed for swapping in lighthouse tracking support, so seems like making positional tracking (and hand, eye, face tracking) modular all makes sense

I know there are probably some tough questions on software, but it seems like OpenXR support is good enough for a lot of basic compatibility, and WebXR and other alternatives (like all the Monado related stuff) are all making some huge leaps an bounds recently.

Unlike printers, smartphones, etc, XR headsets are going to be a huge growth market this decade, and are also going to have huge upgrade cycles since the tech is advancing so quickly. It’d be great to have something upgradable, especially since so much of these HMDs should be reusable, but instead the headsets basically become e-waste/heirlooms come the next generation.

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Sorry, I was brain-dumping on the Official Discord and figure I should preserve it for future reference:

SteveHeist: Part of the suggestion is bringing all those various bits and pieces “into” Framework - they’re currently scattered about the forums and (relatively) hard to find in a spur-of-the-moment thing. I know they’ve mentioned “The Marketplace will be open to third parties SoonTM” but the sooner the better.
[6:33 PM]SteveHeist: Given other things - alternate keyboard options, for example - that’s not necessarily true.
[6:33 PM]SteveHeist: If you buy a Framework and decide you like that clear Keyboard later… what’re you supposed to do with the other keyboard?
[6:36 PM]SteveHeist: Building out from there also allows Framework to build outwardly “organically” - make an External Monitor & it requires a Display Adapter Module… now you have a Display Adapter Module to start prototyping bigger external displays and oops you made a Monitor.
[6:40 PM]SteveHeist: Put some Speakers together and make a housing that puts the Speakers in the Monitor - perhaps connected by an internal cable - oops, we’ve made a TV. Or put the Speakers in a single casing and make a Soundbar. Build the Keyboard and you can then build different Input Covers that use different board sizes - add a ten key, a full desktop board with “proper” arrow keys / INS/DEL/HOME/END/PGUP/PGDWN on it, and both… and then users can “backport” those keyboards to the Framework into a bigger Bottom Cover (or maybe the USB Keyboard Bottom Cover module has a Mainboard cutout to allow CJ64 antics?) and all of a sudden you’ve made different size laptops, which can be paired with internally connected Display options that we oops’d into discovering bigger External Display options and now 15" laptop. So on and so forth.
[6:42 PM]SteveHeist: An ARM laptop option could turn into the FramePhone if done right - putting the processor itself on a Compute Module-type connector board rather than soldered to the Mainboard, for example - but even then you could possibly adapt the Compute Module format to x86_64 and “accidentally” reinvent socketed laptops… but with a single Framework socket.
[6:44 PM]SteveHeist: Pair the development of an ARM laptop option with development of touchscreen laptop options and you could break into FrameTablet (FrameTab?) and then shrink the FrameTab and add a SIM card option and FramePhone. Then the SIM card could possibly be backported depending on implementation all the way to a SIM card Expansion Card for the laptops :smiley:
[6:46 PM]SteveHeist: Obviously the various things I’m pitching here are YEARS of R&D. But come on - if Apple can make an ecosystem out of unrepairable components, why can’t Framework try to make one of interrepairable parts?

…thinking about it, this could even pair into the HMD - which I DO think is a good idea.

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Sounds like a plan

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Thunderbolt dock would be great, seems relatively easy (as opposed to printers and phones) to create (not that I have any experience).

Personally I think laptop is the best product in the tech space to modularize though, and it has a large market share, so building on the existing product is best!

Modular monitor? Just switchable panels, fits with the laptop panel? Maybe easily combine multiple laptop monitors since the bezel of the laptop monitor is relatively thin, so it’d be pretty seemless.

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Printer

Personally, I don’t have a printer anymore. When I need to print or scan something, I go to a printing shop near my house. But I assume some people, companies, or public sectors want the repairable printer. I suppose that a good thing is a relatively low operational or maintenance cost than the Laptop or mobile phone. Perhaps you don’t need to work to update and release new mainboards or OS on the device. I don’t think this device needs strict portability. That’s good to design a repairable device.

Mobile Phone

There are repairable phones that the company says it is repairable at least on their website: Fairphone, PinePhone, Shift Phone. But I suppose there is still a big opportunity in the Americas and Asia markets. I don’t know if these devices have a community-driven hardware ecosystem.

  • Fairphone: it’s still not good enough for upgradability and repairability.
  • PinePhone: It’s not easy to see the repairable parts on the PinePhone website.

One of my friends is using Graphene OS on a Google Pixel Phone. While I am using Android OS with my current Fairphone 3, perhaps I may want to buy another phone to install a Linux-based OS just for fun.

Tablet

Personally, I want to see a repairable tablet more than a Phone. But I suppose the market size is less than the Phone, while the tablet devices are not repairable.

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Couldn’t the input panel just be replaced with a touch screen. Still a bit fat and heavy I suppose, so a new design hmmm!

Maybe tell Fairphone and see what hurdles they have and voice them :slight_smile:

The best Ideas that I can come up with are:
Expanding upon the laptop

  • AMD processor options
    – Suites a more multicore focused workload (or whatever amd’s processors are better suited for)
    – not sure now but their integrated graphics, I have heard have been better than intel’s most of the time

  • Arm Processor options
    – Some people just need as much battery life as possible
    – Arm is gaining LOTS of relevance and recent times

  • Something like QMK for the keyboard/input cover (not sure if this already exists)
    – Always nice to customise your keyboard’s behavior
    – If there is ever a problem with the microcontroller for the input cover it would be much easier to work around

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Laptop with Desktop CPU and Watercooling in the same form factor :wink: