Facebook files patent for modular smartphone

The company’s electronic device would comprise a 3D-printed main body and a number of modular components including a speaker, microphone, GPS and touchscreen.

Facebook could be looking to develop its own modular smartphone device, according to a US patent filed by the social media giant.

The patent – which was filed in January and approved this month by the US Patent & Trademark Office – details a “modular electronic device” with a number of “functional modules”.

The main “chassis” component of the phone would be 3D-printed, while each module would have a “different functionality” and could be added to the device depending on the user’s tastes.

These modules could include a speaker, microphone, global positioning system (GPS) and touchscreen.

The patent also goes into detail about the benefits of using modular systems compared to traditional smartphones, where individual components cannot be adapted or reused.

“Expensive and wasteful”

“Typically, the hardware components included in consumer electronics that are considered ‘outdated’ are still useable,” says the patent.

“However, the hardware components can no longer be reused since consumer electronics are designed as closed systems. From a consumer perspective, the life cycle of conventional consumer electronics is expensive and wasteful.”

Facebook’s patent follows Google’s modular phone Project Ara, which was unveiled in 2014 but delayed and then abandoned in 2016.

Facebook has not confirmed whether it plans to produce the phone in the future.

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