Self-Destruct smartphones are finally a reality

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If you watch a lot of Hollywood movies, then you must have come across self-destructive gadgets. A set of actions trigger the device to explode in a matter of seconds. Poof!! Pieces of metal and plastic scattered all over. It might surprise you to learn that these devices do not exist. There are many reasons why.

Self destruct phone

Previous experiments tried specialized chips (that might not work well for electronics) or they took longer than 10 seconds, which spoils the intention. This could change with the new self-destruct mechanism proposed by researchers at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia.

How the new self destruct works

The new self-destruct mechanism works with an expandable polymer layer. This polymer can quickly expand to seven times its original size when heated to above 80 degrees C. The heat that initiates this expansion comes from a set of heater electrodes that could draw power from the battery of the gadget, say a smartphone or laptop. Approximately, 500 – 600 milliwatts will expand and destroy the chip in 10 to 15 seconds.

Muhammad Mustafa Hussain, an electrical engineer at KAUST, had this to say:

“The first customers would be the ones who need data protection: Intelligence communities, corporations, banks, hedge funds, social security administrations, collectors who handle massive data,”

The KAUST researchers have tested several ways the self destruct can be triggered. A GPS sensor can trigger the device when moved more than a specified distance. A light sensor can also trigger the self- destruct. There’s also another way of triggering the command remotely using a smartphone app. More details will be published in a yet to be released journal.


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