News / Product Design

Facebook files patent for a modular phone design


Facebook has filed a patent application for a “modular electro mechanical” device that paves the way for the company to move into producing consumer hardware, namely phones. The patent outlines a device that can incorporate a speaker, touch display, microphone, gps and function as a phone.

The team behind the patent application is Facebook’s Building 8 group, many of whom had previously worked on the Project Ara modular phone for Google before the idea was mothballed last year. Regina Dugan is the head of Building 8 and led the project while at Google. Facebook also acquired startup Nascent Objects last September, a company that focused on the production of modular electronics.

The Building 8 Group includes former employees of Apple, Google and Amazon, among others and is known to be developing camera and machine learning technology. It’s also developing a prototype of a brain sensor that is capable of typing 100 words a minute.