'Butterflies' from recycled phones

Preston and Leyland Citizen: O2 Recycle has created a series of mechanical butterflies entirely out of old mobile phones O2 Recycle has created a series of mechanical butterflies entirely out of old mobile phones

A group of designers has created a set of artificial butterflies made entirely from recycled mobile phones that interact differently when existing smartphones make contact with them.

Working with mobile operator O2 and its official O2 Recycle scheme, design company is this good? designed the butterflies to show that there is use for old phones beyond the end of a user's contract.

Chris Cairns, creative director at is this good?, said: "We wanted to give the 'old and forgotten' a new lease of life and showcase the fact that even the discarded can emerge as something new and beautiful, which is what up-cycling and O2 Recycle is all about.

"We hoped that, by creating 'Social Butterflies', we would raise a smile and remind people that we can create moments of recognition and happiness out of products we have previously loved and now overlook. Each of these butterflies have their own little personality quirks so I'm looking forward to the members of the public starting up a conversation with them."

The butterflies have each been mounted on a plinth and connected to a tablet that displays a phone number. If users ring the number shown on the tablet screen, the butterfly in question comes to life, and the way they have been programmed means that each robot reacts differently when called, using the digits in a number to prompt individual reactions.

Interactions range from light shows, to lasers and flapping wings that consist of smartphone screens. Is this good? say they took around seven months to create, and involved spending time at the Natural History Museum in London in order to study the butterflies there and gain inspiration for their final designs.

Bill Eyres, head of sustainability at O2, said: "We can see this project creating a type of 'butterfly effect'. As people experience this amazing recycled technology, we hope they will be inspired to regularly recycle their old devices. Many people don't realise that their old technology can have a second life.

"There's an environmental need to dig out old gadgets so they can be used again, rather than lying unused and unloved in a drawer. O2 Recycle offers a simple, sustainable way to recycle unused gadgets and receive a cash payment in return. We all have a role to play in making sure that old technology lives on even when we've finished with it."

Hardware from a range of different mobile phones has been used, with the designers taking inspiration from the different components found within each in order to apply it to a butterfly.

Marek Bereza, co-founder of is this good?, said: "We wanted to show people that their phones aren't junk after two years and they're actually quite valuable and quite beautiful. We've used lots of different bits of phones, just searching for the aesthetic qualities. One has a beautiful gold and green printed circuit board. Another one we used just SIM cards, cladding it like scales or feathers."

O2 hopes to place the butterflies in shop windows in UK stores in order to promote their recycling campaign, as well as give consumers the chance to interact with the robotic insects.

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