Wednesday, 9 April 2008

standards to reduce waste (remote-control, mobile phone charger devices)

Standards in general.

No, not in general. A method of using standards to limit resource use (reduce waste of materials/energy and general). Make the manufacturing/commercial applicance world slightly
more efficient hopefully.

Statement of problem (the easy bit):

Companies have a moral obligation (to the environment and to frustrated users) to make things standard and inter-operable. Particularily in my mind now are:
* infra-red remote controls
* mobile phone chargers and any general chargers/transformers
* mobile-phone and other electronic devices connection cables
* batteries ~maybe~
* light-bulb connections ~maybe~
* in-car devices (radios, ...)

You need a certain amount of flexability to change your interfaces to improve them. e.g. to make things smaller/cheaper/use less power. BUT infra-red remote controls and some accessories for mobile phones in particular are items which are purposefully made incompatible so that the customer is tied to one manufacturer to replace them.

This means lots of accidental revenue for the company for each unique remote control that a customer loses. But it also means there is a waste. Much less of these devices need be made.

Can the benefit to customers and to the environment be evaluated for these cases?
Companies purposefully seek to block competition from an area where they are dominant.
This should be made disadvantageous.

If a standard(S) can be defined for device(D) used to interface to a larger machine or systems(M).
And requirements on standard S can be defined as SR.
If a company has machine or system(M1) with interface(I1) and devices(D1) available implementing I1.
If the requirements of the interface to the system M1 can be defined as a subset of SR but if the interface is not compatible with standard S then a consumer and environment tax should be levied on system M1 especially and also on incompatible devices D1.

In plainer english D might be a remote control, M would be a TV.
D might be a mobile-phone charger, M would be a mobile phone.
M could be a light-bulb and SR a definition of requirements on light output, lifetime and manufacturing cost in resources).

In practice this could be difficult to implement. :) :-P

It can be very hard to get standards accepted.
The engineering and technology industry has to have standards in key areas to facilitate the
advancement of the industry but open standards can reduce the advantage that a closed system and
monopoly gives a company financially. So standards are not developed by the industry in many cases where they should be. Because most of reward of science/technology is through industry we have
an environment where openness is discouraged. This stifles experimentation and general sci/tech/...

But, anyway, like, y'know:

1. Specific cases of this method of controlling waste can be legislated for.
e.g. Legislation on the control on sale of light-bulbs which are not(or less!? :))
environmentally friendly is somewhat similar to a control like this.
General legislation might make niche areas more wasteful?
Think about: using cheaper lightbulbs in an environment where bulbs are in more
rugged environment (i.e. our kids bedrooms!) might generate less waste, ...

2. On a larger scale (global or starting as European/American/Russian/Asian/...) standards can
be defined and rules set so that the overhead of setting standards, evaluating benefits of
having standard and decisions on conformance can be made (with less waste! :) )

This is (an attempt at defining) a general method of controlling waste.
Waste which is financially advantageous to entities to promote by accident of having a monopoly over a manufacture of interface-devices.

Brought to you by the letters S, D, R and I, on a Wednesday and probably as a result of consumption of too much caffeine and too much thinking. :-7

1 comment:

gaoithe said...

NSAI Votes to Approve Office Open XML Standard

OOXML :( bad standard, ODF is already a standard and not controlled by one entity.

vote results Apr 2008

vote results Aug/Sep 2007
Joel on Software - Martian Headsets
Microsoft/Explorer/Vista or general OS/web browser standards and backward compatibility mess.