“Hardware is the Trojan Horse for software,” Hubertus Wasmer, the co-founder of nexpaq, speaks with confidence. Today, we think of software as being fluid and easily configurable. The hardware of today is the complete opposite, static and unchangeable. But this is about to change.
A modular revolution is brewing in the offices of San Francisco and in the factories of Shenzhen. A shift is happening in not only how hardware is made, but how software manifests itself in the world around us. nexpaq is determined to lead this revolution, blurring the lines between hardware, software, and ultimate configurability.
The race for modular hardware is on, and the competition is heating up.
nexpaq – universal modular hardware platform
Hidden in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood, a landscape of warehouses, cafes, and secret gardens, Hubertus shows me the future.
nexpaq’s product is a simple phone case, but with infinite configurability. It acts as an extra battery, along with up to six module slots.
Modules work on iOS and Android alike. Not only does nexpaq plan on beating Project Ara to market, they plan on enabling hardware developers to build modules at a lower cost than ARA.
He explains how nexpaq is not only about creating infinitely configurable hardware, but empowering developers to build virtually anything.
“The problem is mass production” Hubertus explains. Today, scaling a prototype to mass production tremendous capital.
“We take over mass production, we take over distribution, because everything is standardised.” This new approach enables hardware developers to scale their product using standardised components, driving costs down.
It’s all about pure simplicity, and reducing the barriers to building hardware.
Where nexpaq gets interesting is the software that connects everything together. We are today in the dark ages of the Internet of Things (IoT). Smart devices can barely communicate with each other, let alone utilize the petabytes of valuable data created every day.
nexpaq’s platform enables developers to truly blend hardware and software, allowing devices to interconnect in new ways. Today, apps require special APIs to interconnect and share data. nexpaq solves this by controlling the interfaces between modules, allowing for greater control and enhanced security.
The user also controls what data is shared and uploaded to the cloud. Modules aren’t restricted to simply sharing data between each other, but can aggregate (with permission from the user) data from thousands of devices.
To me, this is the beginning of a new kind of operating system, a system that runs across hundreds of modules and devices.
For example, air-quality sensors are being produced, allowing cheap aggregation of air quality data from all over the world. The medical, scientific, and artistic applications of such a platform are quite extensive.
batpaq – nexpaq spin-off
But nexpaq’s vision is even more extensive. We take a break and walk to the cafe across the street. It seems that each and every cafe in San Francisco is filled with people sharing ideas, learning, creating, imagining. A new era of software is emerging, one that connects devices together, intelligently aggregates data, and gives us new insights on the world around us.
Hubertus pulls a device from his pocket, unlike anything I have ever seen. I wrote a previous article, imagining an ARA device with its screen replaced by a battery, but nexpaq beat me to it.
Hubertus laid the device on the table before me. It is something completely new. It is a modular battery pack, a nexpaq without the phone. He calls the device batpaq. To the Paqmobile! I call it the future of mobile computing.
The concept is that it enables nexpaq modules to operate from afar, or without a smartphone at all. As they build their nexpaq platform, new uses will arise. From remote sensor applications, to IoT, to wireless networking, batpaq will enable a new kind of computing.
I pick up the device, it is mostly battery, with six slots for modules. While Hubertus imagines a device for controlling the home, I am imagining a wireless network node. It doesn’t really matter what either of us think, it will be up to developers to take the batpaq further.
Walkie-talkie radio module for nexpaq
The more I think about batpaq, the more I consider it the next step in modular computing. Hubertus shares more ideas, from an e-ink cellphone to a walkie-talkie radio. The DXBm walkie-talkie module (by Fantom Dynamics) is most exciting, as it allows for custom radios to be implemented easily and at extremely low cost.
The DXBm module gives users freedom over the radios inside their devices. Don’t like your cellphone carrier? Create a new one. Some believe that as wireless technology advances, internet infrastructure will be owned and maintained by each and every one of us. Devices like the Fantom Dynamics module are the beginning of this truly epic shift.
Future of modular hardware
As our new century, enters its teenage years, we are discovering things about our world we never thought possible. Hardware is becoming fluid, changing with the world around us.
nexpaq begins to blur the lines between hardware and software. New platforms are arising, existing atop conventional operating systems like Android and iOS. Essentially, these platforms are becoming operating systems that control and define the world around us.
One can consider a situation where systems aggregate data from billions of people, creating a truly human OS. These new systems will only grow more advanced as the Internet evolves.
nexpaq is something refreshingly new in a world where smartphone design is growing stale. In the coming months of 2016, we will begin to question conventional computing. Modular products like nexpaq, ARA, and Fairphone will give us greater control over our hardware. Modular consumer electronics will accelerate the rate of technological change in the marketplace.
The race for modular computing has begun, the starting pistol fired. nexpaq believes their product will beat the competition to market, and into the pockets of consumers. It will be exciting to see who comes out on top.
We are witnessing the beginning of a transition in not only how products are made, but how they manifest themselves in the world around us. Products can change, adapt, and recycle back in the realities in which they exist.
The race for modular computing is like standing inside a brilliant concert hall. The orchestra is tuning their instruments, the crowd is whispering and filing in. Everyone is waiting in anticipation for the lights to dim, for the conductor to stand up and bow.
Modular Phones Forum has witnessed the show begin. Stay tuned to for a full review and more exciting reports from around the globe…