These days Project Ara is the most discussed modular gadget concept. However, it’s one of the youngest concepts as well. It emerged from Phonebloks idea, which was launched back in 2013. Most of Internet users haven’t heard much on modular devices before.
But we looked back and found something really interesting. Several years ago a number of designers already had some of their own visions of modular devices. It seems those ideas were profoundly ahead of time. Still, we believe that if smartphone, tablet or notebook manufacturers implemented them today, undoubtedly every of these concepts would become a bestseller.
1. DIY (do it yourself) Player
The DIY Player concept by Shao Wen appeared in June 2010. The device allows users to swap additional modules in and out of the base screen and turn it into a cell phone, portable media player, gaming console, photo camera, etc. DIY Player solves a big problem of having many devices for different purposes. The concept assumes that a consumer could save space in his bag or pockets using one device instead of many and also upgrade just the pieces of the gadget without incurring extra expenses on a new phone or photo camera, or something else.
2. Obento Note aka Bento Book
The Obento Note concept by Rene Woo-Ram Lee appeared in May 2011. Obento Note is not just an ordinary notebook, it has replaceable parts, which can be used separately as a smartphone and tablet. But if you combine them together, you’ll get an awesome computer with more functions than other laptops would normally allow.
Obento Note is an empty slate with just a display. It contains no battery, storage, or processor. It is simply the hub that docks mobile devices. Once the tablet is placed into the slot, it can be used as a keyboard, once the smartphone is placed into the slot, it becomes a trackpad. There are slots for solar cell battery and solid state storage.
Obento Note gallery
The Lifebook concept by Prashant Chandra appeared in January 2012. The Lifebook laptop does not have a keypad of its own and rather it comes with a 16-pin connector slot to interface with the tablet. As soon as the tablet is docked into the slot, it becomes a full size touch-based QWERTY keyboard. Also, as soon as the tablet is plugged, it starts sharing its hardware and data to contribute towards improving the performance of laptop. In a similar way, the smartphone is also completely integrated inside the laptop and via a connector.
Additional advantages of Lifebook concept include: single point for charging all devices, no wires are required to sync devices with each other, single point update of all device software, double display if you need to convert a keypad into a tablet mode while using a laptop. The tablet could also be used in a sketch mode with a stylus.