So as the title mentions, is modular still the future of tech? We hope so. It means there’ll be no need to go out to buy a new phone when you want a better camera. All you do is just buy the newest camera module and snap it onto your smartphone hub. No need to go out and buy a load of new kit to fit your new camera body so you can get that new Megapixel sensor. It all will snap into place on your new modular camera body. However, this isn’t a brand new innovation for all tech. It has been in the PC market for years, allowing you to customise your PC to your individual needs, adding new modules whenever you want. In this post, I want to let you know what is on the horizon in terms of modular tech and why it is going to be so good.
Smartphones two years ago were supposed to be making a move closer to a more modular build standard. So why are we not walking around with phones with little bricks that slot into the back of them to expand our battery or increase CPU speed? Well, basically it wasn’t in the interest of big influencers like Apple and Samsung to go and allow you to increase the life of your phone by swapping out the broken parts. They can make a lot more money by selling you a £700 smartphone every 2 years instead of selling you a £50 module that will fix your camera or speed up your phone, obviously. The only notable company to look into modular build was Google with their Project Aura. However, they discovered the average user didn’t care about having a modular smartphone and it was only the die-hard customising users that were interested in having a modular design. This is most likely why they haven’t taken off as well as people hoped. So is the modular smartphone dead? Well, all we can hope for now is a semi-modular smartphone like the LG G5 or Moto Mods. to sway the tides and lead to the general populous wanting a fully modular phone.
Cameras are a different story to the disappointing outcome of the modular phone. The DSLR is already semi-modular allowing you to put on new lenses to the body of your camera to best suit your needs. There is also a level of customisation through accessories and other elements you can attach in the ‘hot-shoe’ of the camera to allow for a truly customised feel. Hasselblad is a good Modular DSLR manufacturer for this level of photography and film. However as we more to the more high-end market we can see that you can get a much more modular type of camera. Red Digital Cinema allows you to build your camera pretty much from scratch. Picking from their range of batteries, lens attachments, bodies and pretty much anything else you need to set up a pretty pricey filming rig. Their modular tech does come at a pretty large price tag, however for professional filmmakers it is ideal. Also, the tech at that level is sure to be emulated further down the line for a much lower price.
It is not just the phone and camera markets that have dabbled in creating a modular design. Watchmaker Block has created a fully modular smartwatch. Available modules include cameras, processors, GPS, extra batteries, contactless payment, and heart-rate monitoring. This is a great way to sort out the most effective way to be prepared for anything as you can customise your watch to suit your day on the fly. There is a clear level of success for this modular watch allowing for a completely customised package that can be ordered is right from their website.
AIAIAI TMA-2 is the first fully modular headphones. There are headphones that have this design allowing for 360 combinations using different modules they have created. The choice includes various headbands, cables, speaker units and earpads. Currently only these options are available, though it’s possible that the choice could be expanded in future. This is great as it shows even cheaper types of tech are becoming modular. There is growth in this market for modular devices where there was none before displaying that modular design for tech is still being considered as a real game changer for new products.
It’s not just PCs that are modular, laptops have started moving that way too. The XO-Infinity laptop is an easy repair laptop to allow for a laptop per child in developing countries. It is easy to repair and upgrade to help children learn about electronics. This modular tech is definitely a key part of helping developing countries populations learn how to use tech and teaching people so they can gain key life skills. This is a slightly different but very important application of modular tech. By having the tech with the ability to have elements that can be replaced is great for developing countries as tech is much more easily damaged. So having the damaged parts easily replaced it makes the tech much more useful and expands its lifespan. Such versatile and sustainable tech would actually benefit any country really.
I hope this blogpost has been informative about how modular technology is slowly becoming more integrated into being used as modular tech. It also shows how it is still completely viable for being the future. In some instances, it will be stopped such as in mobile phones but hopefully, as more mainstream electronic products become modular it will put more pressure on the big companies to start taking the use and implementation of modular tech more seriously.
Written by: Dan H