NTT DoCoMo announced Thursday that it had collaborated with CE manufacturers Sharp and Olympus built a prototype mobile phone made out of wood.
Well, not 100%, of course. The chipsets, printboard, screen and battery are still standard-issue.
But the casing (called “Touch Wood”), is made of cypress wood molded using “three-dimensional compression molding” developed by Olympus to make it durable and resistant to water, insects and mildew. Oh, and “no artificial colors or paints are used, so the cypress retains its original natural appearance and aroma.” Mmmmm.
Certainly DoCoMo isn’t the first to think of the idea of a mobile phone using a wood casing rather than plastic. A number of designers have come up with similar concept phones, from a maple slider phone to biodegradable bamboo phones. Siemens was selling luxury wood-phones as far back as 2004.
So why is DoCoMo bothering make a phone body out of cypress wood? Because it could, mostly. And to call attention to efforts in Japan to promote commercial uses for thinned wood – i.e. wood cut down in overgrown forests to keep the overall forest healthy and sustainable.
The “Touch Wood” phone uses wood culled from the Shimanto forest (in Kochi Prefecture), which is managed by the “more trees” reforestation project founded by musician Ryuichi Sakamoto.
No word on when the Touch Wood phone might see a commercial release of any kind. DoCoMo will be showing off the prototype at ITU World and CEATAC Japan next month, but it will only be a non-functional mock-up, so don’t get your hopes up.