Almost 18 month back, I had written a blog on Project Ara. Google (Motorola Mobility) launched Project Ara to develop modular smartphones with the announcement of Fairphone 2 (module/customizable) in December 2015. Neither Project Ara based phone nor Fairphone 2 phone are yet to hit the market, though the latter has sold 40,000 units of pre-ordered phones.
LG has demonstrated its interesting modular smart phone LG G5 in MWC 2016 and launched it in February 2016. Similar to Module Developer Kit (MDK) of Google Project Ara, LG has released SDK and MDK for G5 to build its own market place for G5 modules [LG calls them LG Friends]
Of course, LG G5 is not truly modular like expected Project Ara device. However, LG G5 is capable of morphing itself to another device such as digital camera and extending itself as a VR Control, Smart remote control through Accessories, "LG Friends". Since there are details of LG G5 on Internet, I will not provide a complete review and details of specifications of it here. Some of the accessories that are extendable modules are:
LG has developed LG CamPlus that can be used to convert G5 into a digital camera
LG has partnered with Bang & Olufsen to develop accessory, LG Hi-Fi Plus to bring Hi-Fi Audio
LG has partnered with Parrot to develop Smart remote controller of Drones
With the availability of LG G5 modular SDK and HDK to developers, there may be many pluggable modules to G5 in future. As of now, developers have to submit their ideas to LG and partner to develop the modules after LG selects the idea. LG has become the first OEM to launch modular phone in market. Google Project Ara has become active again and most probably, there will be many more modular phones including Google Project Ara based phones in market in 2017. Google will make Project Ara devices to be available for developers in 2016.
Author: Krishna Kishore, Senior Architect, Sasken Communication Technologies Ltd.
Sasken is a specialist in Product Engineering and Digital Transformation providing concept-to-market, chip-to-cognition R&D services to global leaders in Semiconductor, Automotive, Industrials, Smart Devices & Wearables, Enterprise Grade Devices, Satcom and Transportation industries.
Sasken Technologies Ltd (formerly Sasken Communication Technologies Ltd) 139/25, Ring Road, Domlur, Bengaluru 560071, India CIN# L72100KA1989PLC014226