The lure of mod­u­lar­ity

HWM (Singapore) - - ED'S NOTE - Zachary Chan Ed­i­tor

We change our smart­phones at least once a year to the next bet­ter model. Some of us do so more of­ten, some of us less, but change we will. Tech­ni­cal specications and func­tion­al­ity con­tinue to evolve, but as mo­bile de­sign evo­lu­tion goes, we’ve plateaued.

Think of TVs, lap­tops, tablets or even your lo­cal cin­ema. The con­tent we con­sume is lim­ited to the size of the screen we con­sume it from. And our phones have ba­si­cally be­come just an­other screen. There’s noth­ing else we can re­ally change from the form fac­tor that we’ve reached.

That is why mod­u­lar de­sign is such an in­ter­est­ing con­cept. Think about it. A next gen­er­a­tion phone may not fea­ture com­pletely new com­po­nents. Some­times, it’s just a CPU up­grade, some­times, it’s just the cam­era. So, in­stead of be­ing forced to switch out our en­tire de­vice ev­ery up­grade cy­cle, why can’t our phones be like a PC where we can re­place just the parts to keep it cur­rent, or add/re­move parts to suit our needs?

Un­for­tu­nately, it would seem that a smart­phone is noth­ing like a PC; even Google’s much hyped about Project Ara hit a dead end and a truly mod­u­lar de­vice re­mains a pipe dream.

What we do have to­day from Mo­torola is an in­be­tween so­lu­tion of sorts that suc­cess­fully pro­vides a work­ing model for mod­u­lar func­tion­al­ity, if not yet component upgrad­abil­ity. And I think that, at least, is a pos­i­tive step for­ward we can be­gin to em­brace.

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