Modular product design
Hi forum,

I was thinking: new hardware comes out regularly, for example a new Rockchip processor model. Wouldn't it be great to make modular hardware?

Think of a phone: battery module, casing with front screen, camera modules (front+back), modem module, mainboard module with processor, ram and headers for cables that connect to the display, cameras, modem and battery.

Think of a laptop: casing, monitor, battery, mainboard module with processor, ram and headers for various USB ports.

Advantages for users:

- users would have more choice and order their product a la carte. Want a Pinephone? Start designing you own:

1) standard plastic case or more expensive aluminium one, even more expensive aluminium one with custom printed .png or whatever might be an option.
2) select your processor, want RK3288 (PP OG) RK3399 (PPP) or the new RK3588 (PP Ultra i would call it). Perhaps also RAM options. So could be a RK3588 module with 16GiB RAM for power users.
3) modem module could be the default 4G modem or in the future a 5G modem. In some cases the user could use no modem module at all, and would only use wifi and use it as a mini tablet. That is what modular is fun for: more choice.
4) camera modules: some users want no cameras at all, better than a hardware switch for them, they would want better hardware instead like more RAM. Other users might want a simple back camera but good front camera for video calls. Other people don't want front camera because they don't do video calls, but they do like photography, so good back camera. Why not make a back camera module that costs 400 euro? No problem particularly if you can swap it to a newer/modern pinephone model later. Then your 400 euro is modular and can be taken to your daily driver phone that you want the best hardware for. So modular hardware might cause people to spend more, because their products can more universally be used. If i pay for a good camera on a Pinephone Pro and soon RK3588 model comes out, that good camera may be wasted as i will use the older PPP differently. Transferring hardware seems cool to me.
5) WiFi/Bluetooth module: some want cheap model others want wifi 6 with mimo and whatnot, perhaps even external antenna (RP-SMA or that mini connector not sure the name UFL or something)
6) Battery: i would like different modules where the battery grows thicker, so you can choose a very sleek compact thin phone with quite low battery life that lives from charger to charget (Qi i hope) or some users might want a phat brick phone that is heavy and used with bluetooth headsets often and just stays in your bag/purse/whatever most of the time. Make the battery 4 times as big as the standard capacity.

- buying modular hardware might offer users more value for money. Right now if a user wanted a very good camera, it would be attached eternally to one pinephone model. What if soon a new model comes out, the expensive camera is kind of wasted on the older hardware. I like it that people can take with them (upgrade) their modules. So if RK3588 model phone baseboard comes out, then users buy that, and upgrade their phones with it. They can sell off the older baseband.

- modular means easy to repair. Busted your screen? Your baseboard, modem and battery, as well as your cameras may just be fine. Swap them out, order your replacement casing with front screen (those two ought to be one module i think), and you are good to go again without expensive custom repair, but diy repair by just ordering a new module.

- you can make an awesome website where people can design their own pine products with modules, that satisfies many users as they like to have choice, and see visually those modules that stack together. It is cool!

- people may be wanting to spend more money on Pine products. Say you give options for expensive camera modules, people would buy them if those can be used on several phones, allowing the user to take the modules with him/her if newer hardware is bought. So more reason to buy i think.

Advantages for pine developers:

- it breaks new projects down to smaller components. You can just design and release modules instead of entire projects like a new phone model.
- hardware bugs can be mitigated. Bring up a wiki where revisions and changes are kept. Such as: baseboard RK3399 rev 1.1 has bug X but rev 1.2 has that fixed.
- offer some upgrade program for hardware bugs, offering some discount. So if rev 1.1 has a hardware bug and 1.2 has it fixed, allow some discount when user orders the upgrade.
- pine developers can focus more on modules and release often, higher development speed than if you need to finish an entire new phone.
- users getting more interested in pine products means bigger exposure and perhaps more investors/money/growth/opportunities.

I am very excited about pine products, but i feel something is needed to kickstart and accelerate development. The products need to get better, and a software ecosystem is yet to be established. I am hoping to promote this a bit. Any feedback?

Possibly Related Threads…
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  My Pine64 Logo Re-Design & Thoughts About A New Logo me! 0 234 04-24-2023, 10:03 PM
Last Post: me!
  Product Idea: PineTracker EternityForest 0 499 01-12-2023, 10:33 PM
Last Post: EternityForest
  New product idea: Pine Glasses Blathers 2 2,100 12-02-2022, 09:51 PM
Last Post: erikzoltan
  Product Idea: USB Flash Drives barray 104 68,511 09-01-2022, 01:19 PM
Last Post: tarksur
Lightbulb Product Idea: Pine Graphics Tablet israel 10 6,141 04-19-2022, 04:12 AM
Last Post: Houstand345
  Rackmount cluster case as a Pine Store product? dfr 3 2,497 09-30-2021, 04:52 PM
Last Post: poVoq
  PineVR as a new product? poVoq 11 9,252 05-31-2021, 09:33 AM
Last Post: MirceaKitsune
  Product Idea : PineProbe fdlamotte 3 3,030 04-07-2021, 06:19 AM
Last Post: fdlamotte
  Product Hopes for new Rockchip series TailorHouse 11 8,177 03-14-2021, 01:08 PM
Last Post: dsimic
  [PRODUCT IDEA] PineCalc Computer semi-expert 0 957 02-23-2021, 06:00 PM
Last Post: Computer semi-expert

Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)