Imagine being able to customize the hardware on your phone. You could just snap in better features, like say more battery power or a better camera lens? And think of all the waste created from everyone buying a new phone every two years so they can get the new thing. What if you had a modular phone that allowed you to plug in new hardware as the technology got better?
The idea of a phone that allows the user to tinker with the hardware goes against just about everything Apple believes in, but not Google. Google wants to help you use tech to get exactly what you want. Apple would rather you leave design to the experts. So it’s no surprise the idea of a modular phone got its biggest push forward with Project Ara, which is the codename for an initiative from Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) that aims to develop an open hardware for cellphones.
Durability. Durability. Durability. Cell Phones take a beating and there’s also dust and debris to think about when you allow users to open it up. This is what has slowed engineers from getting modular phones to market.
LG also Has Aims for Modularity
LG’s new G5 smartphone comes with the ability to plug in and remove hardware modules. At launch, the G5 will have a couple of modules, including camera buttons for zoom, shutter and video recording and a high-quality audio processor for playing music.
To change modules on the G5, press a button on the lower side of the phone and pull out the bottom part of the handset. It slides out with the battery, which can be detached and snapped back into another module before it’s reinserted. Pretty cool right?
Maybe you remember the episode of the Simpsons where Homer is allowed to design his own car. “Powerful like a gorilla but soft and yielding like a Nerf Ball.” Yes, the Homer car was a disaster and proof that maybe it’s best to leave design to the professionals. Well the modular phone wouldn’t let users have that much say over look and function, but it points to the continuing struggle of making technology more people-friendly. The modular phone allows for greater customization and showcases the struggle this creates for engineers.
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