With many devices you probably buy for your company’s workforce to use, you are largely limited to what is in the box. This means that, if the device starts malfunctioning, you can’t necessarily just replace the faulty part; you could instead end up needing to purchase a whole new device.
Even when there is the option of having the device repaired rather than replaced, the former’s cost could actually outweigh the latter’s. All of this raises the question: should your company take up “modular” tech, where you could swap out individual components to extend the machine’s lifespan?
What exactly is “modular technology”?
You could easily be excused if you haven’t quite heard of the term before. T3 calls it “a loose term used to describe a product where you can chop and change different aspects of it to suit your needs.” So, you could affix a new camera lens to your smartphone or replace a broken screen on it.
A TechCrunch article enthuses that “modular design lets you customize personal technology à la carte, unlocking a new frontier previously accessible to only DIYers and electronics hobbyists”. Imagine if you could replace crucial parts on your device as easily as you can rebuild a Lego set; this is, in essence, the ease and convenience of modular technology. Well, in theory, at least…
Has modular tech quite lived up to its promise?
It’s hard to look past the fact that the burgeoning world of modular tech has seen some high-profile flops. Though Google spent three years developing a modular smartphone in the form of Project Ara, a Google spokesperson eventually confirmed in 2016 that the product, contrary to earlier reports, would not be coming to market.
The project, as originally envisioned, would let users swap out the device’s processor, battery or display, as The Verge recollects. However, a modular phone, albeit one not nearly as customizable as Ara, has been released in the form of the Moto Z, with its modular backplates for adding a projector or speaker.
Meanwhile, in January 2016, T3’s Robert Jones poured cold water on what he called “probably the hottest crowd-funded project of the moment, the Blocks smartwatch”.
Despite its compatibility with modules that allowed users to add extra functionality to the core watch, Jones asked: “Surely Blocks removes choice on the widest scale, trapping you within an ecosystem that gets perpetually harder to break free from the more you spend in it?”
Why the term “modular tech” is itself flexible?
As acknowledged earlier, “modular tech” is something of a broad term – meaning that it can be tricky to discern exactly where modular tech ends and non-modular tech begins. Jones insists: “All pieces of technology are modular to some degree, with various components either switchable/upgradeable or not.”
Still, for your business, it would bode well to invest in tech advertised as “modular” – like Duplo International-made booklet makers, which various companies can easily tailor to enable themselves to produce booklets to a customized design as well as a precise cut that espouses professionalism.
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