Toshiba has revealed several reference designs for camera modules meant to work with Google’s Project Ara modular smartphone. Speaking at the Project Ara Developers Conference last month, Shardul Kazi, Senior Vice President from Toshiba America, demonstrated modules with varying sensor sizes and capabilities.
The company has prepared three prototypes so far; a 2MP front facing camera, a 5MP rear shooter, and a slightly larger 13MP rear camera. The front facing camera is meant to utilise the front receiver bar on the Project Ara, and includes an audio chip. Presumably to allow calls to be made through the bar.
Both rear camera modules take up 2×1 blocks, and are mostly identical. Although the 13MP sensor is a little thicker than the 5MP version. This doesn’t quite come as a surprise, as Kazi also mentioned that the larger sensor version will include additional features, but did not elaborate on what those might be.
These cameras are the first step in a three stage plan that should be completed by 2016. By learning how to shrink a camera down to a 20 x 40 mm block, Toshiba also hopes to start building other modules for Project Ara. Phase Two of the plan will involve modules like NFC, wireless charging, TransferJet, and external memory modules.
It is unknown if Toshiba will be able to get production versions of the modules out in time for the Project Ara pilot test programme due later this year in Puerto Rico, but it is comforting to see companies hop on the modular phone bandwagon.