Digital World Native

Motorola’s ‘Moto Mods’ teaches your smartphone new tricks

The hardware features of modern smartphones are pretty much set in stone the moment you buy them. If you’re lucky, at most you may be able to add some storage with an SD card, but then you’re stuck with what you have until you buy a new one somewhere down the line. Motorola wants to change this with their Moto Mods, which are plug-in modules that can radically enhance your phone’s functionality, such as adding a 70-inch projector, a super-zoom camera or a boombox.

Moto Mods are conceptually similar to Google’s Project Ara modular smartphone, which was developed when Motorola was still a Google subsidiary. Motorola has since been sold off to Lenovo & that spirit lives on here.

They’re hardware add-ons that use magnets to snap to a modular circuit board attachment on a Motorola Moto Z phone. They fit securely & can be easily swapped. Once your Moto Mod is snapped on, your phone recognizes it, then just tap the phone display’s one-time setup & you’re done.

According to Motorola, Moto Mods will work on future generation Moto Z’s as well. In fact, the company’s investing a lot of time & effort & have gone out their way to enlist major partners like JBL, Tumi & Kate Spade.

Motorola is making it easy for independent 3rd parties & hobbyists to develop their own Moto Mods. The “Transform the Smartphone Challenge,” which was launched on Crowdfunding platform Indiegogo in 2016, resulted in 50+ developer launching campaigns with prototypes in 50+ countries.

Check out this video:

Product development is done through the Moto Mod developer kit (MDK), which includes hardware & code samples. It consists of a case that can fit some basic circuit board modules & an SDK. Open source apps have been developed & are available on Github.

If you’re a Raspberry Pi developer, you can also get a board that accepts Raspberry Pi-compatible HATs (Hardware Attached on Top), which lets you use existing boards & a familiar development environment.

Moto Mods are available here from Motorola, where you can find a Polaroid Insta-Share Printer for US $149.99, a smart speaker with Amazon Alexa for US $112.49, a 360-degree camera for US $224.99, a gamepad for US $59.99 & a lot more. The MDK is available for €115 here.

Image Credit: Motorola