The world’s tech companies must harbour a hearty dislike for the European Union because when the many cogs of its bureaucracies turn, they find themselves with little choice but to follow or risk losing access to a huge and affluent market. There are a few areas of technology that don’t have some concessions to EU rules in their manufacturing process, and if a common charging connector or right to repair weren’t enough, they’re back for another clash with the mobile phone industry. If you hanker for the days of replaceable mobile phone batteries, you’re in luck because an EU Parliament vote has approved a set of rules covering batteries among which will be a requirement for replaceable cells in portable appliances.
We expect that the phone manufacturers will drag their feet just as some of them have over charger ports, but the greater ease of maintenance, as well as extra longevity for phones, can only be a good thing. There are a few other measures in the package, and one of them caught our eye, the introduction of a battery passport for larger industrial and EV batteries. There’s little more information in the press release, but we hope that it doesn’t inhibit their exploitation by people in our community when introduced.
We look forward to seeing more replaceable battery models appear in due course, meanwhile, you can read some of our coverage of the EU’s right-to-repair measures.
Header: Andy Melton, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0.
A disturbing trend in consumer electronics has been a steady disappearance of replaceable batteries on our devices. Finding a mobile phone with a swapable battery is a struggle, and many other devices follow the trend by sealing in a Li-Po cell. The result is an ever-shorter life for electronics, and a greater problem with devices going to recycling or worse still, landfill. Hope is at hand though, thanks to a proposed European Union law that would if passed make batteries in appliances “designed so that consumers can easily remove and replace them themselves“.
In case any readers in the rest of the world wonder what it has to do with them, the EU represents such a huge market that manufacturers can neither ignore it, nor in most cases afford to make separate EU and rest-of-world versions of their products. Thus if the EU requires something for sale in its territories, in most cases it becomes the de facto norm for anything designed to be sold worldwide. We’ve already seen this with the EU’s right to repair legislation, and while we have not doubt that manufacturers will do their best to impede this new law we don’t think they will ultimately prevail.
By and large, automakers have spent much of the last century trying to make cars quieter and more comfortable. Noise from vehicles can be disruptive and just generally annoying, so it makes sense to minimise it where possible.
However, the noise from the average motor vehicle can serve a useful purpose. A running engine acts as an auditory warning to those nearby. This is particularly useful to help people avoid walking in front of moving vehicles, and is especially important for the visually impaired.
Electric vehicles, with their near-silent powertrains, have put this in jeopardy. Thus, from July 1st, 2019, the European Union will enforce regulations on the installation of noise-making devices on new electric and hybrid vehicles. They are referred to as the “Acoustic Vehicle Alert System”, and it’s been a hot area of development for some time now. Continue reading “Electric Cars Sound Off, Starting July 1st”
What’s a smart city? According to Wikipedia, a smart city uses ICT (information and communication technologies) to enhance quality, performance, and interactivity of urban services while reducing costs and resource consumption. Hackers have been using technology to enhance all sorts of things for years.
London is joining forces with cities across Europe to demonstrate smart city technology, mostly in the Royal Borough of Greenwich. The project is in conjunction with the EU Horizon 2020 project, which is still soliciting proposals for funding. It seems like some Hackaday readers–especially in the EU–ought to have some ideas worth funding.
Continue reading “London Tries Smart Cities”