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Brief Published: 2 Feb 2015

Modular Phone Enviroment Sensors by Lapka

Lapka x Project Ara

San-Francisco design studio Lapka, known for its design-led approach to healthcare devices, has launched a conceptual range of environment sensors that fit into the modular smartphone exoskeleton of the Google Ara. Launched in 2013, Project Ara (formerly run by Motorola) is the development of an open hardware smartphone that would allow users to personalise their phones via interchangeable components.

The seven sensors from Lapka include an air quality sensor, a breathalyser and an EKG monitor to measure heart rate. The modules are used to collect data, which is then displayed on the device's screen. Each component has a distinctive look with playful use of colour and finish on bold geometric forms that suit the blocky aesthetic of the phone.

As identified in Product Defence: Enhancing Wellness, products that allow analysis of personal health or surroundings are becoming increasingly popular with consumers looking to take better care and control of their wellbeing.

Lapka's sensors demonstrate the potential of Project Ara for devices outside conventional smartphone territory, as each user can decide which functions are important to their own needs. Able to adapt to each individual consumer, modular products can offer personalisation while still allowing for mass manufacture. See our Spring/Summer 2016 Design Direction Extend for more inspiration.

Modularity is seeing a particular influence in the electronics industry, where waste is a growing issue. Countering this, modular technology can offer an extended product lifespan, enabling hardware to be updated in the same way as software. For further insight, see Ethical Electronics, and the modular television spotted at International CES 2015.