Modular tech is the future. Imagine if the days of buying a gadget with prepackaged features were over and you could instead select only the components that actually matter to you. Why pay for ultra-fast graphics processing power when you don’t even play games? How come you are paying for near-field communications technology when you’ve never once used that feature on your phone? Why shell out extra cash for space-age waterproofing on a camera when you only plan to use it for indoor portrait shots?
Companies try hard to give consumers what they want. But we are all unique, and we all want different things. While the days of complete customization are not here yet — more personalization is coming. And the following trends and technology are making that future seem closer than ever.
Because it is a small and still-emerging area of design, wearable technology is ripe for development under a modular mindset. If the market can mature with consumers expecting a customizable experience, it will be easily for engineers and producers to follow suit — unlike the already saturated phone and laptop market that has preconceived ways of doing things. Enter kickstarted-funded project, Blocks, which starts with a removable face that allows a wearer to personalize the look, the all-important, but generally overlooked, fashion facet of the wearable.
Then come the bells and whistles. Block offers cameras, GPS, heart-rate monitoring and extra battery life, among other options. It remains to be seen if the product will take off. But it has the potential to significantly change the wearables market.
Google has ascended as the company most interested in pushing modular tech in mobile phones. Its Project Ara is aiming to produce a basic, modular smartphone that starts cheap but can be upgraded to infinity and beyond. If you want the fastest computer processing capability, all you have to do is pay the market price and put it into a pre-existing body. Want the world’s top camera options? Say no more. For now, this is more dream than reality, but betting against Google would never be wise.
For other modular tech available today in your phone, the LG G5 offers a “full ecosystem of companion devices” with an emphasis on camera features. For one, you can change the battery quickly and easily due to its slide-out design. Then come the enhanced camera options, including the standalone camera functionality offered by the LG Cam Plus. A simple switch gives you manual-style control over your photography and a better ergonomic grip.
Laptops for Everyone
One of the aspects of modular tech that could truly revolutionize the world is its price point. Today, leading manufacturers do generally offer a lower-end model for those who simply cannot afford the most cutting-edge features.
But this is limited. Apple, for example, has based its brand and image around selling only top-end electronics. So there is only so low it will go, and even companies that covet the budget-conscious market have their limit. If, however, more companies started offering what is essentially a shell that could be built upon, the competition and basic economics would likely continue to push down the introductory price.
Just think if a small school in India or Guatemala could simply buy 1,000 basic laptops then adapt them as needed. For the early-education students, they wouldn’t need much more than basic processing. Older kids could get a slightly upgraded version. And the administrators could get more features as necessary.
One Education, with its XO-Infinity, has been doing just this. Some of these devices are simply tablets with a touch screen. Others snap into a keyboard base. Others can have a camera attached. And all are durable, ready to be upgraded at a second’s notice and changing the way technology is used in many schools.
The result perfectly represents the dream of modular tech: more options and more user satisfaction — even while only paying for what you actually use.