If your smartphone mic isn't delivering, why not swap it out for a better one?
That's the vision of the Phonebloks alliance – and now German microphone and headphones manufacturer Sennheiser has signed up, it's become a shade more likely.
Future modular phones such as Google's Project Ara could include Sennheiser’s interchangeble audio blocks; you'll be able to assemble a mother-of-all-smartphones using components from different vendors in the Phonebloks alliance.
Sennheiser's involvement will focus on its areas of expertise, such as the creation of broadcast-quality microphones or highly compact devices, like recorders, that are less receptive to wind noise. Theoretically, that means you can switch that abysmal microphone in your modular smartphone for something more cutting edge from Sennheiser, if your budget permits.
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Sennheiser may also be involved in making modular smartphones more accessible for disabled customers; it's involved in creating special streaming technology (based on its recently launched Sennheiser Connect technology), for a “low-latency lip-synchronous” solution for the visually impaired and hard-of-hearing. In short, phones can be easily customised based on the needs of the individual.
According to Sennheiser, it hopes that devising and creating components for the Phonebloks project will result in new applications beyond smartphones, too. Modular tablets, anyone?
Phonebloks is an independent organisation that encourages the manufacturing of devices that produce less electronic waste.
When one component is damaged in a conventional device, it can potentially brick the whole unit and render it useless. What Phonebloks is working towards, is making smart devices more modular – so that we can just replace the broken or damaged component, without facing an expensive repair bill. And because Phonebloks devices are upgradeable, you'll be able to extend its lifespan by swapping out components for newer ones as and when you need them.
The result will be one device that lasts for eons, as long as there are parts still available.