Project Ara is inching closer to its commercial début in Puerto Rico later this year, so it is only natural that we begin to hear word of modules that third part developers have in mind for the build-it-yourself smartphone. Last week, Toshiba showed off some of its own reference design camera modules for Ara.
Toshiba discussed three swappable modules for Ara: a 2 megapixel front facing camera bar, as well as 5MP and 13MP rear camera options. The company will also be opening up its reference designs to third party developers, to bring a wider range of camera options, and other modules, to Project Ara.
“Also we took some of Toshiba technologies and our chips, and developed some module reference designs. We can open these designs out for everybody, so people can use it for their own technology and developing modules.”
The 5MP module fits in the standard 2×1 module size for Ara and comes with its own ISP chip to handle the processing, while the 2MP front facing bar contains an extra audio codec and can communicate with other processors through common I2S and I2C interface standards. Toshiba’s 13MP camera option is based on the company’s T4K82 mobile sensor, which allows for 30fps video recording at 4K and 2K resolutions and has 120fps 1080p recording capabilities.
In addition to these sensors, Toshiba also talked about its 8MP T4KA3 and 20MP T4KA7 products for mobile devices, both of which could also be worked into future camera module designs.
Here’s a quick video of the 5MP camera module being plugged in and used to capture video in real time.
These three camera modules are just the first stage in Toshiba’s plan for modular products. The company is also developing wireless charger, TransferJet, NFC and external memory reference designs for Project Ara this year, leading into an unspecified “unique module” in 2016.
Although still far from a finished product, Toshiba’s little range of camera sensor options are an exciting prospect for Project Ara and discriminating smartphone photographers alike.