One of the most interesting – and unusual – smartphones to be released this year was Lenovo’s Moto Z. Like the recently released iPhone 7, the Moto Z has one notable omission, the traditional 3.5 mm audio port. But Lenovo’s reasoning behind removing it was a bit different than Apple’s. The Moto Z had to be as thin as possible to compensate for the added bulk of additional modules. Although it is not the first smartphone to feature optional modules that enhance its functionality, the Moto Z’s implementation makes modularity a snap – literally. The modules called “Moto Mods”, snap right onto the back of the device, making the process of swapping out mods fast and easy.
There have been quite a few official Moto Mods so far, including a dual speaker mod with a kickstand, a projector, and a secondary battery. And now, the company is taking the idea of modularity one step further, by providing third parties a way to make their own mods. The Moto Mods Development Kit (MDK) provides the tools needed to build custom Moto Mods that will work with the Moto Z series of smartphones. It gives developers and hobbyists the same resources that the creators of the Moto Z use to build their mods. The MDK comes with a reference Moto Mod, which has the microprocessor, Moto high-speed bridge, and all the other basic interfaces that you need to get started, without having to build your mod entirely from scratch. Users also have the option to choose from four “Personality Cards”, an Audio Personality Card, a Battery Personality Card, a Display Personality Card, and a Temperature Sensor Personality card, each of which is designed to help facilitate a different specific set of functions when building your mod.
This kit puts innovation into the hands of developers and opens up infinite possibilities of functionality that can be added to the Moto Z series of devices. To build a mod, you need 3 things: a Moto Z, a Linux-based computer, and a USB Type-C cable (and, of course, a bit of knowledge of hardware and engineering). Links to the purchase pages for the kits and personality cards can be found on Motorola’s web page. The MDK will set you back $125, and the personality cards vary in price.