Facebook is exploring a device with interchangeable parts that could be used as a smartphone
California,July21:Facebook is exploring a device with interchangeable parts that could be used as a smartphone or a speaker, a patent filing has shown.
The modules in the patent include a speaker, a microphone, a GPS and a touchscreen for a device that could function as a speaker, a phone or a GPS tracking device.
Most smartphones have few replaceable components, but modular technology allows users to update the phone in parts, rather than upgrading to the latest device. “From a consumer prospective, the life cycle of conventional consumer electronics is expensive and wasteful,” the patent said.
The patent, filed last year, shows a main chassis and a series of modules that would be made using 3D printing. The device would change its function by downloading new software depending on the modules it is using.
The design follows Google’s modular smartphone Project Ara. The project was delayed and ultimately abandoned in 2016. Several former members of Google’s Project Ara team now work for Facebook, according to Business Insider.
Facebook files thousands of patents each year, many of which will not result in new products. However, it would not be Facebook’s first smartphone project.
The company worked alongside HTC to launch the HTC First in 2013, developing Facebook Home, an app which aimed to make Facebook and social networking a central part of the phone’s operating system and homescreen. The app was not well received is no longer available to download.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has previously said it doesn’t make sense for the company to make a smartphone. “If we did build a phone, we’d only reach one or two per cent of our users. That doesn’t do anything awesome for us,” Zuckerberg said on the launch of Facebook Home.
LG became the first leading smartphone manufacturer to produce a flagship phone based around modular technology last year. The LG G5had modular battery packs, cameras and Hi-Fi systems.
Apple has also been exploring a modular device, according to a patent filing released in March. The device would combine an iPhone into a Macbook body, slotting the phone into the keyboard of the laptop body.