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Google Project Ara Design Will Use Electro-Permanent Magnets To Lock In Modules

Soulskill posted about 8 months ago | from the magnets-how-the-heck-to-they-work dept.

Cellphones 62

MojoKid writes: "Google's Project Ara, an effort to develop a modular smartphone platform, sounded at first as much like vaporware, but Google is actually making it happen. In an upbeat video, Dave Hakkens (the guy who created the Phonebloks design that appears to be the conceptual basis for Project Ara) visited the Google campus to see what progress is being made on the project. The teams working on Project Ara have figured out a key solution to one of the first problems they encountered, which was how to keep all the modules stuck together. They decided to use electro-permanent magnets. In terms of design, they've decided not to cover up the modules, instead making their very modularity part of the aesthetic appeal. 3D Systems is involved on campus, as they're delivering the 3D printing technology to make covers for the modules."

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They talk very big (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 8 months ago | (#46664749)

But neither the summary, nor the terrible overly "modern" designed marketing website, makes much attempt at explaining intent. It's like wave "we're replacing email" doesn't explain anything to anyone. "We're making modular phones" doesn't tell us, at the very least, what might actually be different, day-to-day for users.

The difference (0, Flamebait)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 8 months ago | (#46664849)

"We're making modular phones" doesn't tell us, at the very least, what might actually be different, day-to-day for users.

You know how smart-phones these days have really good cameras?

Well in the GFuture, instead of the great cameras you have now, you'll be able to chose from several different mediocre cameras!

And, you can chose the outer case color - want a crappy pink camera module? Well here you go!

Of course, along with that don't forget a side order of drivers that mostly work with connectors that sometimes fail!

Ahh, GFuture. Finally bringing the PC experience to your pocket.

Re:They talk very big (1)

supertrooper (2073218) | about 8 months ago | (#46664861)

I think that Google has a proven track record on delivering systems. Nor they do a lot of marketing. This phone will see the light of day, but how successful it's gonna be that is another story.

Re:They talk very big (2)

MindStalker (22827) | about 8 months ago | (#46664905)

It allows you to build and upgrade your phone a piece at a time.

I think the biggest draw for me would be "replace your screen after you drop it". Feature :)

Re:They talk very big (1)

ifiwereasculptor (1870574) | about 8 months ago | (#46665005)

For me it would definitely be "replace your SoC without needing to replace a still perfectly good, expensive screen and/or battery"

Re:They talk very big (1)

HobophobE (101209) | about 8 months ago | (#46665271)

Or, "you're going to the Grand Canyon for the day, so why not rent a higher resolution camera module." If you don't do photography every day, maybe the cost would be too great for a high-res camera mod (i.e., over time camera will no longer be a discrete instrument, but will become part of the mobile kit (don't worry, you will still be able to get a camera-like platform for the usability it offers)), but if you're taking a special trip (or going to a wedding), it might make sense to rent the mod for something as low as $10 per day.

Re:They talk very big (4, Informative)

Anaerin (905998) | about 8 months ago | (#46665053)

Okay, here's the deal. You want a phone, so you buy a base unit (that probably has the screen). Once you've done that, you choose what CPU (Single-core? Dual-core? Quad-core? Octa-core?) you want, how much RAM (512MB? 1GB? 2GB?), how much storage (16GB? 32GB? 64GB?), what kind of camera (None, 2MP, 4MP, 16MP with telescopic zoom lens?), Location system (Cell Tower Only? A-GPS? GLONASS + GPS + Compass?), Radios (Bluetooth? Wifi (a? n?), cellular radio (None? CDMA? GSM/Edge? UMTS? LTE?), card reader, and battery you want.

Want to update at a later time? Not a problem! Swap out that tired old dual-core ARMv7 for the latest dohexa-core 64-bit ARMv11! Running out of RAM too often? Throw another 2GB in there. Find you're taking more pictures than you thought? Swap out the basic 4MP shooter for a 28MP beast! Want to do work with 3D mapping? Add a second camera!

The idea is to make phones as modular as (or even more so than) a home PC.

Re:They talk very big (1)

ByteSlicer (735276) | about 8 months ago | (#46665279)

Location system (Cell Tower Only? A-GPS? GLONASS + GPS + Compass?

Good luck using a compass near all these magnetic locks...

Re:They talk very big (1)

Sabriel (134364) | about 8 months ago | (#46666439)

You can, it's just that the compass will involve a lot more than just a magnetised needle and a marked circle.

Re:They talk very big (1)

chihowa (366380) | about 8 months ago | (#46666925)

Modern magnetometers in phones are pretty robust. After calibration, the one in my phone works fine right next to a 500 MHz NMR (~12 T [for reference the earth's magnetic field is around 50 uT]). The magnetic locks won't be moving around much, so the field it sees from them will be pretty static.

Re:They talk very big (1)

ByteSlicer (735276) | about 8 months ago | (#46669799)

Interesting, I didn't know they have such a wide dynamic range. I knew a small rare-earth magnet near my phone would max out the Hall sensor value, but never considered recalibrating it in that state.
It's a bit difficult to test too, since it seems to use dead reckoning (accelerometer) as a fallback for rotation.

Re:They talk very big (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46665569)

The shell is a screen with the basics, only including WiFi, so I wouldn't even count it as a Modular Phone. It's more of a Modular internet device that can be built on

Re:They talk very big (1)

hvdh (1447205) | about 8 months ago | (#46668505)

Nowadays, a quadcore CPU + GPU with LCD controller + LTE/CDMA/HSPA/EDGE/GSM modem + a/b/g/n/ac-Wifi + Bluetooth + GPS/Glonass/Galileo + FM radio + camera controller + Dual-SIM and SD card interface is a 3-chip solution (e.g. MT9565 platform). Mind those chips plus RAM and Flash should be placed directly together, not via contacts to pluggable modules.

Re:They talk very big (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46669503)

"Okay, here's the deal. blah blah blah blah"

So, please tell us what the average livetime of a smartphone is?
How often would an average person feel the need to upgrade all these things within the life time of the device?

This phone is only good for the people who make the crappy looking rubber holders. Those will generate a whole new market that will cost you more than the actual phone parts did.
This is pretty much a bullshit innovation, because google needs innovation but has no real groundbreaking stuff to shove on the market.

Pie in the sky (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 8 months ago | (#46664755)

Because a mechanical connector is too good for them and we're all anxious for new ways to waste battery power and wipe our mag stripes.

Re:Pie in the sky (4, Informative)

MindStalker (22827) | about 8 months ago | (#46664893)

Its electro permanent. Meaning it requires a power to connect and to disconnect, but no power to remain connected.

Re:Pie in the sky (4, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 8 months ago | (#46665025)

Because a mechanical connector is too good for them and we're all anxious for new ways to waste battery power and wipe our mag stripes.

No power is required to maintain the connection. Did you know that the Internet has search engines? Google for "electro-permanent magnet" and the first link will be this Wikipedia page [wikipedia.org] .

So If I Drop My Phone (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 8 months ago | (#46664781)

I have to put it back together again?
Well, they'd have to actually build one first for me to be able to drop it. (Not that I'm one to often drop a phone.)

A modular phone will never work. The masses don't want modular devices. They want a solid slate they can get laser engraved more than they want the ability to customize, modify, or repair things.

Re:So If I Drop My Phone (1)

Anaerin (905998) | about 8 months ago | (#46664991)

Yes, you have to put back together any sections that came off, and replace any parts that too catastrophic damage and broke. Unlike the current method, where you have to replace the whole damned thing.

Re:So If I Drop My Phone (1)

afidel (530433) | about 8 months ago | (#46665027)

Or, you could send your broken phone to phoneambulance or any of the other third party sites to have it repaired, or heck pay the manufacturer to 'fix' it (ie give you a recertified used one).

Re:So If I Drop My Phone (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | about 8 months ago | (#46664999)

A modular phone will never work. The masses don't want modular devices. They want a solid slate they can get laser engraved more than they want the ability to customize, modify, or repair things.

Has anyone stated this is even intended for the masses?

Re:So If I Drop My Phone (3, Insightful)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 8 months ago | (#46665031)

If it's not intended for the masses, then it's going to fail on all important points:

- it will be bigger/thicker than current all-in-one phones because each module will be its own box with its own case and you need space for the magnets and inter-modular connections
- it means it will cost even more than current all-in-one phones
- it means it won't get manufactured in enough quantities to make a difference in the waste produced by all-in-one phones

Re:So If I Drop My Phone (0)

sexconker (1179573) | about 8 months ago | (#46665063)

If it's not intended for the masses, then it's going to fail on all important points:

- it will be bigger/thicker than current all-in-one phones because each module will be its own box with its own case and you need space for the magnets and inter-modular connections
- it means it will cost even more than current all-in-one phones
- it means it won't get manufactured in enough quantities to make a difference in the waste produced by all-in-one phones

Somebody gets it.

This is a puff project designed to bolster the "innovative silicon valley tech firm" image more than anything else.

Re:So If I Drop My Phone (2)

Tumbleweed (3706) | about 8 months ago | (#46665203)

If it's not intended for the masses, then it's going to fail on all important points:

- it will be bigger/thicker than current all-in-one phones because each module will be its own box with its own case and you need space for the magnets and inter-modular connections
- it means it will cost even more than current all-in-one phones
- it means it won't get manufactured in enough quantities to make a difference in the waste produced by all-in-one phones

Your reasons for it to fail (as listed here) are still reasons that would make a device _INTENDED FOR THE MASSES_ fail. There are products that are intended for niche markets that still succeed, and this project will succeed or fail based on those criteria, not your strawman criteria.

Re:So If I Drop My Phone (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 8 months ago | (#46665887)

I never said it would fail on its own as a device, I said it would fail on the points I listed, the third point being the most important if it's not intended for the mass market.

Re:So If I Drop My Phone (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | about 8 months ago | (#46665959)

I never said it would fail on its own as a device, I said it would fail on the points I listed, the third point being the most important if it's not intended for the mass market.

I suppose if you think that is a big reason people want a modular phone, then sure. It's not even on the list of reasons why I'd want a modular phone. They should probably do some polling to find out WHY people want a modular phone before they make one. :)

Re:So If I Drop My Phone (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 8 months ago | (#46667457)

That sounds like a false dichotomy. Your first bullet point would be true unless some smart engineer figured out how to make it a reasonable size. I hear they have some smart engineers working at google. On your second, you would likely save money on upgrades, not having to replace the whole phone, and probably going longer between upgrades. The third is wild predictions. If the design concept takes off and becomes the standard model, then it's going to save a lot of waste.

Be skeptical, not cynical.

Re:So If I Drop My Phone (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 8 months ago | (#46667767)

My reply starts with If it's not intended for the masses, the rest of my comment is based on that assumption, which was from the parent post.

Re:So If I Drop My Phone (1)

dovf (811000) | about 8 months ago | (#46670931)

A modular phone will never work. The masses don't want modular devices. They want a solid slate they can get laser engraved more than they want the ability to customize, modify, or repair things.

Has anyone stated this is even intended for the masses?

Quoting the Project Ara website: "Introducing Project Ara. Designed exclusively for 6 billion people." That would qualify as "the masses", I think...

Re:So If I Drop My Phone (1)

safetyinnumbers (1770570) | about 8 months ago | (#46666151)

Only if you don't opt for the airbag or parachute modules.

Still sounds like vaporware to me (1, Insightful)

Kielistic (1273232) | about 8 months ago | (#46664783)

Because nothing screams "this isn't vaporware" like "we discovered magnets stick together". As if keeping things in place was the major road block for this endeavor.

Re:Still sounds like vaporware to me (2)

davewoods (2450314) | about 8 months ago | (#46664875)

Actually, that has been one of the major roadblocks. Figuring out a strong method of locking the modules in is a great step forward. I could be remembering incorrectly, but I believe they were going to make it so you would run an app on your phone to "unlock" the module(s) so you could remove/replace them, then "lock" them back when you were done.

I am very excited for this technology, just like I was for the original Android G1 on T-Mobile. I am sure it will be a little iffy at times, much like the G1 was, but it will find its place, and become quite a hit, I expect.

Re:Still sounds like vaporware to me (1)

Kielistic (1273232) | about 8 months ago | (#46666315)

Were it technologically possible it would be a hit, yes. Unfortunately you can't just jam CPUs and memory into a matrix of pin holes where ever and how ever you want. Tight integration out performs modularity every time. Closer together, less interconnects to go through, etc. CPU sockets change faster than most high end phones' shelf lives.

If any product ever comes out of this all I predict it will be is a modular camera (of which only one module will ever be produced). Possibly a storage module if they think no one will notice that SD cards are a better fit for that. Maybe a choice between a full screen and a half keyboard faceplate but that seems unlikely in today's market.

Pick and place phone components just aren't feasible. The fact that this "progress" video was all about magnets and 3D printing cases demonstrates that better than I ever could.

Re:Still sounds like vaporware to me (1)

TFlan91 (2615727) | about 8 months ago | (#46664895)

Are you new to electronics?

Re:Still sounds like vaporware to me (1)

bug1 (96678) | about 8 months ago | (#46666177)

Are you new to electronics?

If he is new to electronics he would have already experienced many different methods of physically locking things in place, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

Can you explain why you think physically locking things in place is NOT a trivial exercise for a phone ?

Re:Still sounds like vaporware to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46665227)

oh shut up.

Don't Put In Pocket (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46664823)

Sounds like you need to be careful if you put this configurable phone in your pocket. It'll likely corrupt any data on your floppy disk (and maybe your card strips too).

Re:Don't Put In Pocket (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46664933)

I'll just be sure not to carry floppy disks around.

Re:Don't Put In Pocket (0)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 8 months ago | (#46665097)

Who the hell still uses floppy disks in 2014?

Re:Don't Put In Pocket (0)

vought (160908) | about 8 months ago | (#46665197)

YHBT

HAND.

OLPC II (0)

hessian (467078) | about 8 months ago | (#46664857)

These ideological projects all follow the same pattern:

Think about what ought to be, in an emotional and social sense.

Then design something that plausibly fits within those parameters, although not in such a way that it will be a necessary solution.

Gather tons of money, hype, CV points, etc.

Fail.

Sort of like the French Revolution, Bolshevik Revolution, and all other liberal efforts since the dawn of time. Those people are pathological.

modular but never taken advantage of (1, Interesting)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 8 months ago | (#46664865)

this reminds me of those micro 4/3 cameras with the interchangeable lenses, except surveys find that many of the consumers never switch lenses...

Re:modular but never taken advantage of (2)

davewoods (2450314) | about 8 months ago | (#46664899)

Even if you never switch modules, the ability to personalize the hardware in your phone is amazing. Even if I never even take a module out, being able to have a phone with 3x battery size than all others, and a much more accurate GPS would be amazing. (I play Ingress a lot)

I believe another rudimentary idea was for a photographer to get a better camera module, and an extra storage module, that way they have a nice camera on them at all times in case they do not have their "real" equipment with them. Again, even if they never switch modules, just being able to have a phone built to fit your use case is astounding to me.

Re:modular but never taken advantage of (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 8 months ago | (#46664923)

You're not the target demographic. That doesn't mean it's a bad idea. These kinds of phones will be bought by tech nerds in their 20s. The same guys that built Ham radios, maybe hotrods, later the first pcs, and after that the who modular IBMPC / overclocking crowd.

As a vendor, you can sell them an expensive phone, and then license the modules to other companies and rake in the cash as they make marginal improvements to a module yet charge double. There's always that guy that has the $3000 video card... why not take his money?

Re:modular but never taken advantage of (1)

idontgno (624372) | about 8 months ago | (#46665387)

You're not the target demographic. That doesn't mean it's a bad idea. These kinds of phones will be bought by tech nerds in their 20s.

Glassholes, you mean.

modular IBMPC / overclocking crowd.

Modular PC. [wikipedia.org] Not exactly the stirring precedent I'd go looking for.

Ewwwww.... (-1, Troll)

jtara (133429) | about 8 months ago | (#46664971)

.... the grunge that is going to collect between the modules!

It's really about the stupidest idea I've seen from Google.

Every pluggable/removable part multiplies the opportunity for failure. It's why so many consumer devices now have embedded non-user-removable batteries. (No, *not* to rip-off consumers when they have to pay for service to have the battery replaced. Most of these devices are discarded or removed from service before the battery might need replacement.)

Don't see how it will work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46664973)

While an interesting concept I don't see how it will work in practice. Ultimately the modularity of the design is going to cost you battery life or size or both and as far as I can tell it is unavoidable.

Adding modularity adds to the size of the components. You need connectors. You need casing protecting the individual modules. You need a frame to connect everything to and to connect it all together. These all take up space and in a phone that means either a smaller battery or a bigger phone to keep the same size battery. You can try to minimize the space wasted in various ways but you can never completely eliminate it. A non-modular phone with an equivalent amount of design effort and the same non-modular components will have less wasted space resulting in a larger battery or smaller phone or both.

On top of that you are going to use more power because longer buses that have to function over connectors need more power to hit the same speed. You also loose the ability to optimize your bus for a specific target because you have to design for the highest speed needed for any component you could use there not what you know will be used there in a fixed design.

On the software side you are going to end up wasting a lot of power because of driver problems and limitations on the power saving techniques. On a battery powered device the best way to make it work longer is to not use energy when you don't need to. That means aggressive power saving techniques. Turning off components that aren't needed. That is all much more simple when you have a fixed design with specific components while in a modular phone a single module with a bug or bad driver could mess up power management badly and drastically impact battery performance in a negative way. As a perfect example of how critical this is check out the improvements they got in the Surface Pro 2 with a firmware update.

http://www.anandtech.com/show/7478/microsoft-surface-pro-2-firmware-update-improves-battery-life

Re:Don't see how it will work (1)

vought (160908) | about 8 months ago | (#46665223)

How it works is that Google gets to use the successes in a later design and avoid the failures.

Rather, that's how it would work if Google were actually a hardware company, which they emphatically are not.

Say what you will about Apple but at least they admit they build hardware and aren't ashamed to do the R+D necessary to ship great hardware. They push the envelope and break it at times, but at least they don't do embarrassing things like 'hey, let's impress everyone with our design idea that will never ship' homage to someone's 20% project.

Also, Apple couldn't care less where you are or what you're looking at when using their hardware. ;-)

Good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46665049)

Google is amazing.
http://de.mon.st/RyEq2/

Wow ... how about (2)

giorgist (1208992) | about 8 months ago | (#46665171)

I have an idea I should consider patenting, but I can't help myself An interchangeable battery !!

And yet, they are selling motorola (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 8 months ago | (#46665231)

Why continue this while selling motorola?

Re:And yet, they are selling motorola (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46666665)

They don't need their own phone manufacturer, owning one makes the other Android OEMs uncomfortable. If and when this is ready to be produced, they can pick a manufacturer to make it for them like they do for Nexus devices, or perhaps even get multiple manufacturers to all make compatible modules.

Integration nightmare (1)

recharged95 (782975) | about 8 months ago | (#46665535)

Nice, MEMS, compasses, RF, batteries, inductive charging (in today's phone) and memory.

Mix that with strong electromagnets and you will like have a Ara that could just a simple 5" LCD monitor (cause nothing else will work) once the magnets turn on.

Bad Video (0)

Demonantis (1340557) | about 8 months ago | (#46666053)

Never play complex music/sounds over your voice. It is possible to accomplish, but extreme care should be taken. It distracts the viewer from your message.

How is the not vapoware (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 8 months ago | (#46666165)

From TFS: ""Google's Project Ara, an effort to develop a modular smartphone platform, sounded at first as much like vaporware, but Google is actually making it happen. In an upbeat video, Dave Hakkens (the guy who created the Phonebloks design that appears to be the conceptual basis for Project Ara) visited the Google campus to see what progress is being made on the project."

How is this not vaporware? Kewl magnets and flashy app screens barely qualify as sizzle and are nowhere near steak.

They've re-invented LittleBits! (1)

Animats (122034) | about 8 months ago | (#46666233)

Google has re-invented LittleBits [littlebits.cc] , a family of electronics modules which are attached with magnets. With their new "Cloud" module and their Arduino module, you might even be able to build a wireless VOIP phone.

This is a fun hobbyist concept, but you don't actually use things built that way. Either this will be bulky or the components will be fragile. You pay a penalty for all that casing and standard form factor.

Somebody (Wyse, I think) built a PC like this in the early 80s. Each module looked like a book, and plugged into the module next to it. You lined up all the modules, pushed them together, and put a big pin with a knob through the stack to lock them all together. Total failure as a product.

What Google should be doing, after buying all those robotics companies, is designing a phone for 100% robotic assembly, so they don't need Foxconn. (Except that Motorola did that a decade ago.)

Using these phones ... (1)

PPH (736903) | about 8 months ago | (#46666385)

... with tongue studs, lip and nose rings is going to be problematic.

So much for the hipster market.

Guess they're not planning to use MRAM ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46667221)

Heh heh, no magnetic storage for you !

Electro-permanent magnets (1)

Trax3001BBS (2368736) | about 8 months ago | (#46667651)

Will slipping this into your back pocket by those of use that don't use a wallet or purse, screw up your magnetic stripped cards?

I'm sure this has been thought of but how would you stop it.

From what I read you apply electricity to remove a component, otherwise it's going to be held fast by I imagine rare metal magnet's, else fall apart on an impact. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E... [wikipedia.org]

Re:Electro-permanent magnets (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | about 8 months ago | (#46681767)

Magstrips on credit cards are extremely durable (besides the fact that they are outdated). It required a beast of an electromagnet to corrupt a bit on them. And those were written by a cheap USB card reader.
Mythbusters Season 2003, Episode 3.

Re:Electro-permanent magnets (1)

Trax3001BBS (2368736) | about 8 months ago | (#46682273)

Magstrips on credit cards are extremely durable (besides the fact that they are outdated). It required a beast of an electromagnet to corrupt a bit on them. And those were written by a cheap USB card reader.

Bad example(s) :} I have a bank card I use to make purchase that's strip is so weak it's hit or miss which scanners will read it (mostly miss). The ones that charge $3.00 a transition always work.

I've seen all kinds of ways to get it to be read, the most popular is sticking it in a plastic bag and then running it though the readers. Yes I have a replacement coming and have many times in the past - without going into details accept the fact they never make it to me.

But it is the only card that's ever been bad for me, even ones I've had for years have had no problems being read.

Mythbusters Season 2003, Episode 3.

Ah Mythbusters, they had a episode proving CD's did not shatter in CD drives, case closed. They got so much mail calling BS cause it happened to them, or their Mom, or their Uncle...

Mythbusters said they will retest CD's because of the large response they got, and lo! they got one to shatter.

I used to help folks who had questions (which almost all revolved around computers), a few asked how to get the tiny pieces of CD out of their drives, they don't shatter as much as explode.

- I may be one of the few people that doesn't watch Mythbusters.

Re:Electro-permanent magnets (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | about 8 months ago | (#46712273)

While they only use a few data points that's more than most people use.
Every experiment has a chance of incorrect results. The Mythbusters are not some kind of gods that do not suffer from that.
If they find something to be impossible or improbable then that is only valid within their test parameters. They must choose narrow test parameters to prevent 3 hour shows that Discovery would not put on TV.
However if they tested it and found it to be busted then it is improbable that it is not busted. If other data points (usually experience from the fans) indicate that their test was flawed then they are not above retesting with a new set of test parameters, a set that may cause the effect.
The CD's is not the only case they had to revisit a myth. Neither is it the only case where their original results were wrong. While confusing, going back to a debated result and retesting it is a part of science. A very important part.

For getting the CD parts out of a drive:
In a desktop, don't. Install a new one. It's to much hassle.
In a laptop: Ask the supplier. If it is too expensive then I'd advise an external drive if that is acceptable. If both of these are not an option you can clean them with pincers and a lot of time. Just get a decent supply of painkillers to alleviate cramp from holding that d*mn pincers so long.
Myself: nowadays I don't use optical media often enough to even have it in my system. Granted, the external drive works just fine in the extreme case that I need an optical disk, but I haven't even used that one for over a year.

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