The first of Google’s Project Ara modular smartphones are expected to go on sale later this year during a pilot project in Puerto Rico. Ahead of that limited launch, developers have been showing off designs for possible modules including speakers, displays, batteries, and cameras, among other things.
Now Toshiba has unveiled solutions for a range of different types of modules including displays, cameras, and wireless chips.
The idea of a modular smartphone is that users will be able to swap out components as needed. Want to upgrade the processor? Just remove the old chip and slap in a new one. Need more storage? Just pop in a new module instead of replacing your entire phone.
Not only does this let you upgrade to newer hardware as it becomes available without buying a whole new phone… it also lets you swap out modules on an as-needed basis. For example you could replace an ordinary camera with an infrared model for situations where you might need it. Or if you don’t need to take pictures at all you can get more battery life by replacing the camera with a spare battery.
So the more modules, the merrier.
Toshiba’s latest examples include several different camera options including a 2.1MP front-facing camera and 8MP and 13MP rear cameras, a WiFi and Bluetooth module, and a display module.
There’s also a TransferJet Module that would enable support for high-speed, proximity-based data transfers. Pop a TransferJet-capable SD card in your camera, for instance, and this TransferJet module would allow you to quickly move photos or videos from your camera to your phone just by bringing the two devices near one another.
Another module enables activity-tracking features through a low-power ARM Cortex-M4F processor and sensors including an accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer.