More On Motorola's Moto Mods

With Motorola’s introduction of the Moto Mods program to go along with the new Moto Z and Moto Z Force smartphones, the company provided some extra information about how these modular devices work with both smartphones.

Communicating Chips

On the hardware side, it involves the communication between two custom chips on the smartphone and one or two of the custom chips on the module. As for the 16 pins on both devices, Jeff Snow, the head of product management for Moto devices, said that the data transfer speed is up to 6 Gbps over a bus connection.

In order to stay attached to the smartphone, Snow said, there are four magnets on each module. From what we saw at Lenovo Tech World, it seems that the magnets are able to hold modules securely in place without making it too difficult to swap one module for another.

Iqbal Arshad, the company’s senior vice president of engineering in the Global Product Development team, then provided a crucial detail about the software side of the connection: Moto Mods use the Greybus software stack.

Sounds familiar? The Greybus application layer protocol is one of the building blocks (no pun intended) for Google’s Project Ara modular smartphone and helps enable the phone’s baseplate for hot-swap functionality.

A Long-Term Investment

The decision to move to modular parts that work with the Moto Z and Moto Z Force mean that the company sees modularity as the future (or a future) of Motorola devices. In a Q&A session with some of the Motorola executives, Jim Wicks, the senior vice president for consumer experience design, mentioned that the mods are “forward and backward compatible.” This essentially means that the company is going to stick with the same form factor for quite some time.

The hope is that other companies buy into the idea of developing a modular device to work with the new smartphones. In fact, the company created the Moto Mods Developer Program. As an extra incentive, the Lenovo Capital and Incubator Group will award $1 million to an individual or company that makes the best Moto Mods prototype before March 31, 2017.

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