Status symbols permeate every part of our lives, and that includes the workplace. A middle manager in your office will likely lease a BMW 3 Series sedan to advertise their success. The CEO might hang up an expensive piece of artwork on their wall. But the best indicators of status are the small things. They show taste without having to flaunt it. In the mid ’80s, the Bang & Olufsen BeoCom 600 desktop telephone fit that bill perfectly, and Alessandro is modernizing one as a Bluetooth smartphone handset.
The Bang & Olufsen BeoCom 600 stood out because of its remarkably sleek and minimalist design and its superior sound quality. Even today, used models in mint condition can fetch more than a hundred dollars — a pretty amazing feat for a 30-year-old landline phone that doesn’t even have a screen for caller ID. But the phone is still as beautiful as ever, and is quite desirable to the kinds of people who find the retro ’80s aesthetic appealing. It is, however, useless if you don’t have a landline, which is why Alessandro is giving it Bluetooth capabilities so it can be used with his smartphone.
This project is still in progress, and there are three major milestones to overcome. The first is setting up a Bluetooth module to send and receive audio from the smartphone, as well as the numbers that have been dialed. The second is getting the original keypad working with the new digital hardware. The third is connecting that new hardware to the original handset’s speaker and microphone. Alessandro will most likely use an ESP32 as the Bluetooth module, and a keypad matrix IC to get the dialer working. But he has only just started the project, so be sure to follow along as he progresses.