Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Modai, A Smartphone Concept With Replaceable Brains

Smartphones are the epitome of planned obsolescence. If you don’t upgrade your phone every two years, you’re likely to be left out in the cold as software outpaces its capabilities. But all you really need to do is upgrade the phone’s brain, not its whole body.

What if there were a smartphone whose body was designed to let this kind of modular upgrading happen? Julius Tarng has created one called Modai. It’s only a concept design, not a working prototype or a shipping product, but I wish it were.

Tarng has devised a boatload of intriguing user-interface conventions for Modai, some familiar (separate "paradigms" for work and play, much like Divide), some more surprising (a flexible "peelstand" on the back of the phone lets it flex in your pocket to silently signal incoming messages, or stand up on edge when an alarm goes off).

But Modai’s coolest idea is its modular design to encourage users to extend the device’s lifespan. Removing the "peelstand" also lets you access Modai’s "internal pack," which you can swap out and attach a new, better CPU unit, RAM cache, or battery to, just like snapping Legos together. Read More