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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Modular Devices

Some of the newest news in tech is about Google's Project Ara, the quest to create the first modular phone in the world that is actually a viable product as well. Modular design is using bits and pieces of a product to customize it for the user, like putting together your own phone from a list of part options. It is nothing new though, with computers being essentially modular by design, especially with Razer's model where instead of connecting cords and such within the casing, all you have to do is add their specially designed boxes into the base. The thing that is new about Ara is that it is the first time this is really being tried in mobile devices, an area heretofore dominated by devices that were pre-built, and that users had no input on in respect to their hardware. Here I will explain why modular devices would be good and where I think Google and other companies could take this technology.

Modular mobile devices will be very nice because it will be able to create a phone that is perfectly suited to the individual, including only the parts of a phone that you want, and deciding the quality of those individual parts. Imagine first a teen who is tech-saavy. Maybe they want the faster processor and the high amounts of RAM, but could care less about a camera and a sensor on their phone. They could opt for a high end processor and a piece with a lot of built in RAM, without having to pay the cost of the included camera. Then you could look at an older person who is in the less tech-saavy category. Maybe they only really want a good camera to document family events and higher storage for that, but they aren't going to be running anything that needs high speeds. They would simply put in a part that has a good camera and another part with high storage, and opt for lower end parts to complete the phone. As you can see, modular phones are the ultimate solution to appealing to a wide-ranging market. This is also rumored to be incumbent in tablets, where the same principle applies.

And now, for where I think companies could take this promising technology in the future. To start off, I am thrilled that Google is working on this. They have the money and the minds to actually make something that will work. Plus, when Google enters a project, they are not always the first, and definitely not the last company to try and do that product, meaning more money, more thought, and more competition to build a viable modular mobile device. The one thing I haven't figured out, and what I'm actually looking most forward to is how they will make modular devices pretty. They can't work with the giant cases as you can with computers, and lets be honest, we all want a nice-looking phone, that's just half the status of owning one. Whatever way it unfolds, I don't see it in the near future, though it will be fascinating to watch the different projects unfold to delve into unexplored territory.