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Modularity, standardization and interoperability in multi-functional innovative technical solutions (Part Three - analytical interpretation of the question applied to specific situations)

Andrew ( Gabriel ) Livshits

Here is one example of the spontaneous formation of a modular technical solutions as a mixture of design , engineering and commercial interests

In early September 2013 designer Dave Hakkens posted to the Web a video with a story about the fictional smartphone them Phone-blocks.

All components of the device ( from the screen and memory to the gyroscope and Bluetooth) were a plug-in units , which in case of failure (or obsolescence ) can be replaced by others.

Over Hakkensom laugh (" designers such designers "), but six weeks later to support the project was announced by Motorola.

Dave Hakkens lives in Holland. Judging by the page 's autobiography on his website , he graduated from the Design Academy in Eindhoven and is a freelance artist without a permanent job .

In his artistic career Hakkens seem to adhere to the principle of " what you see is that I sing ": in 2009 he designed a wooden wine glasses , in 2010 - an edible handle in 2011 - electrical cord in the form of books .

The last project designer was trying to bring to life with the help of Kickstarter, but was unable to raise the necessary amount .

From the portfolio Hakkensa that one of the major " fad " designer - ecology and the idea of re-use of materials.

For example, he gave up on YouTube a master class on how to make floor tiles made of cement bricks and debris left after the demolition of the old house and built the oil press , working on wind energy.

On the idea of a modular telephone Hakkensa prompted a broken camera : down left lens drive .
Designer contacted the manufacturer , but he refused to repair the unit and offered to buy a new camera .

Hakkensa withdrew himself from the idea that the camera should be thrown out , although all the other components - screen , battery, memory, processor - worked flawlessly.

In the interview, he drew a parallel with the bike , "If you have a flat tire , you do not carry a bike in the trash, you just buy a new camera ."

The idea of " repaired a bicycle" Hakkens decided to apply to the smartphone - probably because the camera system is already so there . Designer proposed project unit called Phone-blocks.

It consists of a main board ( "base" ) with sockets and plug-in modules are attached to the "base" pins. Module , in the view Hakkensa can be anything - the screen , battery , Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, gyroscope , speaker , microphone , GPS, antenna , memory.

The advantages of the project, according to the designer , had to be , first, the ability to easily replace the failed component , and second , ease of upgrade (few gigabytes of RAM - bought a module with two gigabytes ) .

Third, have Hakkens , Phonebloks gives the opportunity to create your own unique smartphone needs: we need a good photographer and camera memory cards, traveler - capacity battery , the grandmother - a loud speaker and contrast screen .
Modules for Phonebloks will release "profile " of the company , thought Hakkens : Qualcomm and Nvidia will take the processor , Canon and Nikon can do subcontract " photocopy ", for the production of speakers will take Marshall and Bose.

All modules are expected to gather in one online store (Blok-store), which would become a kind of "iron " analogue of the App Store and Google Play: user comes in , orders the relevant blocks , gets them and inserts into your smartphone .

Hakkens correctly assessed their strength. Realizing that is a designer , not a technologist , he began to collect on the project , not money, " husky " , simultaneously searching for a serious partner for the realization of the idea .

For those who like the idea of Phonebloks, offered to visit the site Thunderclap and express their approval , and at the same time and share the link to the video with your smartphone in social networks.

By the end of October, the draft " zalaykal " almost a million people, and the YouTube video has collected 17 million hits .

Serious partner , oddly enough , is also found. Oct. 29 ( remember this number ) of intention to participate in the creation of an "open hardware platform " for the modular smartphone announced on his blog site owned by Google for Motorola.

She has renamed Phonebloks in Project Ara and said that the embodiment of the ideas into practice will deal with a part of the Department of promising technologies and projects.

The history of relations Hakkensa and Motorola remains a mystery.

On the one hand, the company said that the concept of " phone - designer " ripened her for about a year - which means that the Dutch designer here like as innocent.

On the other hand, Hakkens by posting a video on September 10 Phonebloks, noted that the following will make an important announcement about the fate of the project is October 29.

Partners at the time it was kind of like - how did he know?

One way or another , but the roles and Motorola Hakkens successfully shared . Have agreed that the company will deal with the technical details of the project, and the designer will charge to form a community of enthusiasts around him .

" For a long time served as a phone , it does not necessarily have to be modular. It is enough to be maintainable . "

Kyle Vince , founder of iFixit

In the interpretation of Motorola Phonebloks project began to look like a "free and open" hardware platform , the products for which you can create all comers.

The blog Motorola representatives noted that , picking up the project , the company " wants to do for the" hardware "is the same that Android has done for software ."

Motorola, on the one hand, withdrew himself the leading role (in particular, promised to winter issue guidance for developers ) , and on the other hand, guarantee democracy - they say, will be created on-line platform for debate where to speak and be heard will be able to all interested persons .

Virtually no technical details about the future of the company has not disclosed .

Motorola released a couple of drawings , sketches , and reported that the inside of the machine will put some " endoskeleton " which will hold the modules together.

Most of the questions to the project ( which compounds will be used , what are the dimensions of the finished device , not whether the phone will fall apart in the fall ) has remained unanswered.

The idea of modular smart phone can not be called new . First, the recall of Sony QX and the Asus Padfone.

The first was introduced in September 2013 , it is a camera in the form factor of the lens , but without the display. The device can be connected to your phone and use the screen as a viewfinder unit .

The second system is built around a smart phone that can be inserted into a "big bag with a screen " and get a tablet, but if you fasten to boot more and keyboard - then the laptop .
In 2011, the patent for a " modular smartphone " was awarded to Microsoft.

In her version of the device has the form of a slider , the lower part of which - the empty bay . In the compartment can be inserted plug-in modules that extend the capabilities of the device , for example, game pad with buttons , a second touch screen , QWERTY- keyboard or an extra battery .

The closest to the concept of the idea Phonebloks Israeli company Modu. In 2007, the company announced a miniature telephone and special cases to it (jackets).

Each case one way or another the transforming apparatus , for example, allows you to turn him into the player , GPS or camera.

The fate of the device was sad : in 2010, was presented the modified version of the device called the Modu T, followed by the company , which has appeared in debt, ceased operations .

Speculate about the fate of Phonebloks, evolved into Project Ara, it is premature - if only because of the lack of specifics.

The first two steps are made by: Dave Hakkens painted a beautiful picture, but Motorola has taken the lead in organizing the case.

Threats , however , is obvious: China's ZTE, for example, has its own design modular smartphone Eco-Mobius. The debate about whose standard modules are standard, can start faster than you think.

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