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Modular Smartphones

Modular Smartphones

I think I heard Modular Kitchen, but it seems I heard wrong. It is indeed Modular Smartphones. Now, What are modular smartphones? Here’s a brief…

It is a simple way for users to individualize their phones, swapping out parts like the battery and camera until users have a phone that's just for them. Ever had the feeling where you look at your phone that’s six months or a year old and think, “I really wish that I could just upgrade this one part and I wouldn’t need to get a new phone?”
Until very recently, the concept had always been as some kind of consumer dream. But with the creation of the Phonebloks campaign, everybody excitedly began to think doing so could become reality. Unfortunately, we were left with nothing tangible from Phonebloks. Then came Motorola and Project Ara.

Project Ara is Motorola’s effort to create a truly customizable phone. A phone where you can switch components in and out as you wish. That’s traditionally something that’s been reserved to the PC industry, not in the smartphone world.

Think of it this way: You’re going on vacation and you want a better camera than what your phone is currently equipped with. In the current marketplace, you’d either have to buy a new phone or a separate camera to get the kind of quality that you want. But if you had a modular smartphone, you could simply pop out the existing camera and swap in a new one. You could even go whole hog and get something like a Nikon sensor with Zeiss glass and maybe even a xenon flash if you’re into that sort of thing. You could truly create the phone of your dreams.

Well, easy said than done.

Project Ara's design comprises of an "endo" — the phone's endoskeleton, or basic structure — and various modules.The endo is the structural frame that holds all the modules in place. The modules "can be anything," says Motorola, giving examples ranging from a new keyboard or battery to more unusual components such as a pulse oximeter.

But – Where do I get the modules from? Well, with 3-D printing, apparently.

The company has inked a deal with 3D Systems, a global 3-D printing manufacturing company, to help produce parts of the phone. In a few months, Motorola will also send an invitation to developers to start creating modules for the Ara platform, and it’s also anticipating an alpha release of the Module Developer’s Kit (MDK) sometime this winter.

There will be a significant decrease in the e-waste if the modular smartphone concept becomes a reality. Waiting eagerly for this one.

- Nishant Pachchigar