Bluetoothing Beautiful Phones

You’ve seen a landline phone converted into a Bluetooth headset. There’s nothing new there. It’s great for confusing kids when asking them to dial a rotary phone, but that’s about it. It’s the same phone, built by Ma Bell for fifty years, converted with a little Bluetooth breakout board.

You’ve never seen a landline conversion like this. This is [Alessandro]’s Bluetooth-converted Beocom 600, complete with a drop-in replacement circuit board that turns this beautiful Bang & Olufsen design into a useful device for the smartphone era.

This phone was designed as Bang & Olufsen’s entry into phone design, and we’re shocked, simply shocked, that Apple hasn’t tried to lift this design yet. Unfortunately, it’s designed for landlines, making it horrifically inconvenient to take to Starbucks. That’s where the Bluetooth comes in, and [Alessandro]’s custom board that is meant to replace the guts of this vintage phone. Honestly, with Bluetooth modules it’s probably easier to deal with that instead of a telephone line.

Right now, the work is concentrated on the user interface, which means taking apart and mapping the pinout of the buttons. This keypad is plastic over rubber domes contacting a polyester sheet with contacts, feeding out to a ribbon cable. It’s fantastic work and finally some of the best design out there will be brought into the modern era.

18 thoughts on “Bluetoothing Beautiful Phones

  1. Young designers – please look at this thing. I do not have an artistic bone in my body, but it takes no special talent to see that something is both aesthetically pleasing and functional. I would be willing to do severe and cruel things to my UX “designers” macbooks and ipads until they learn their art. Would probably go to jail for it, but would also be willing to force them to use nothing but Windoze 8 and Gnome 3 until they learned to do art.

    1. Or do not.
      The handset is very thin with sharp edges so it does not look like it would be comfortable to hold for a long time. It also is very rectangular but speakers tend to be round so it wastes material. The number buttons are slanted ovals which I do not find very attractive. I have no idea what that black rectangle on the right is for? Maybe to slid over the place you use to write the speed dial numbers? Or is just hanging off the side?
      I like the colors and the place to store the cord is also nice but too much of form over function for my taste. It kind of reminds me of the MacPro.

      1. There’s no way I’d faff around putting a curly cord back in a little slot after each call no matter how neat it looks, specially as one edge of the slot is a handset that can easily be dislodged off-hook.

        1. Good point. I think this is a case of form over function. Somethings like pieces of art just have to look good but some items are meant to be used. Even from a pure design point of view I think simpler round number buttons in line with the and the same height as the oval command buttions would have looked better. That sliding door over the speed dial list is just going to add a lot of cost and is one more thing to break or wear out.
          If this is for the desk of and exec that does not talk on the phone much then I guess it can work but it is far from a great design. The colors and textures of the materials are very nice from the picture. Getting a finish that looks that good is very hard.

      2. “I have no idea what that black rectangle on the right is for? Maybe to slid over the place you use to write the speed dial numbers? Or is just hanging off the side?”

        It slides over the speed dial listing, yes.
        This phone looks a tiny bit different to the Beocom I remember, but that one had a small flap/slot on the top of the sliding plate to insert the backing of a note pad into. This one doesn’t appear to have that.

  2. Use blurtooth to dull those sharp edges, it will help. B&O designers liked the slab look! I had a cassette deck that had machined aluminum injurious sharp corners everywhere, Kevlar gloves not included. Blurtooth! It’s so bad I have to tell a caller to get off of it. It would sound better with zero lag to use the old cordless-phone duplex radio pair to pull something like this off. At it’s best it worked well.

    It would nice to stuff everything into a standard Bell 500 handset. That is the most functional comfortable thing in the world to interface with your voice and hearing. It’s the result of decades of design and human ergonomics. In short, it’s a wheel. Done right. It rolls. Don’t reinvent it, as a square wheel.

      1. I actually rewatched the first part and indeed their phones are nice and soapy. I didn’t realize that movie was from 1973. I guess it was a part of the intent to have everything look super futuristic, a kind of World Expo of a film.

  3. Had one of these a million years ago, rescued from a teardown. Thought the slidey rectangle was for scribbling notes in pencil on, apart from covering up the speed dial numbers. That didn’t go well, as no amount of erasing removed the marks! Pretty sure the 0-2 switch was the ringer loudness and the IWV/MFW was the pulse/tone dial switch.

  4. Reading this, I was intrigued by the concept of using an old phone as IO for a modern cellphone through Bluetooth. I thought it should be possible to do it in a generic way. Just plug any modular plug phone into a converter box? Maybe a this could new DIY project for me? My first inclination was that surely someone else has thought of this. Yes, someone has done just that: http://www.cell2jack.com . It’s missing rotary phone dialing, but you could still dial from the cell. It looks like the ringer on the analog phone works too.

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