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Project: Moto Mods Interconnect Technology

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Motorola Moto Mods - NK Labs

Moto Mods allow the user to customize their phone at will with magnetically attached replaceable backs. 

Cameras, speakers, batteries, game pads, and many other modules are available.


Motorola's Advanced Technology and Products Group hired NK Labs to develop the concept of a modular smartphone and to build the first functional prototypes. We identified the module interconnect as a critical area in need of technology development, to allow for a seamless user experience, good video and audio performance, and a long battery life.


The prototype modular phone we built for Motorola uses permanent magnets to attach the modules, and spring pins for power and data connections. It allows bidirectional power transfer between the phone and the module, so any module can use, provide, or store power. Finally, it uses the new MIPI Unipro on-device network protocol for communication that provides unique features needed to enable the modular smartphone.


Given responsibility for system architecture, NK Labs worked closely with Motorola and Google to develop the technology to facilitate an open-source ecosystem of modular smartphones.  We worked with Toshiba to specify and design the high-speed MIPI Unipro bridge ASIC.  We created FPGA-based hardware for developing and testing the Unipro RTL, designed the development boards, and played a major role in the first system-level tests of the ASICs.

The Moto Mods platform uses a standardized open-source interface for the modules. This allows for low power, high bandwidth data transfer with guaranteed latency, using a small number of pins. The Greybus driver model allows the firmware in the module to act as an extension of the kernel driver in the phone, which allows for a seamless user experience. For example, an add-on audio module appears in software as a standard built-in audio device in Android, without any need to find or load drivers.

The Moto Z smartphone with Moto Mods is one of the most popular smartphones in the United States and is sold in almost all major electronics stores.


Mr. Mobile's review of the Moto Z Play and the Hasselblad Camera Moto Mod

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