Facebook is working on a modular smartphone similar to Google's Project Ara: Report

By Karthekayan Iyer | Published on 24 Jul 2017
Facebook is working on a modular smartphone similar to Google's Project Ara: Report
HIGHLIGHTS

Facebook's patent filing suggests the social networking giant is working on a device similar to Google's Project Ara with swappable modules. The modular device can be loaded with different software depending on the component attached to the device.

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Facebook appears to be the latest Silicon Valley company to push into the modular consumer electronic device segment. The social networking giant has published a patent application that suggests that the company could be working on a modular electromechanical device. Business Insider reports that the modular device is being developed by Facebook's Building 8, which is a consumer hardware lab responsible for futuristic products. The patent application indicates that the device will include a speaker, microphone, touch display, GPS and work like a regular smartphone. Users can expand the functionality of the device by swapping one of the modules with another module.

Facebook, however, is not the first company to get into the modular smartphone segment. Google tried to develop a modular smartphone with swappable modules but decided to cancel the project last year. LG also tried to enter modular smartphone segment with the G5, but dropped the idea with its successor. Moto and Andy Rubin's Essential are currently the only two smartphone companies working on modular smartphones and Essential is yet to ship its first smartphone.

Facebook has not officially confirmed its plans for a modular smartphone, but the company has tried to make a smartphone in the past with limited success. The exact functionality of Facebook's modular device is not yet known, but Building 8's head, Regina Dugan has confirmed that the unit is working on advanced camera and machine learning technology, as well as the ability to type with your mind.

The patent, originally filed in January 2016, cites the modular device can function as a phone or an Amazon Alexa-like connected speaker. It also notes that the connected devices can be loaded with different software depending upon the component connected to the device. It remains to be seen whether Facebook can succeed in making a modular device possible and make it a success among consumers.

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Karthekayan Iyer

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