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    Here at element14 we’ve been lucky enough to get our hands on one of the first new Moto Z phones and the Moto Mods Development Kit to go with it. Motorola officially state 5.2mm for the Moto Z phone, whereas we actually measured it to a very impressive 5.19mm. What’s 0.01mm amongst friends when we are here to add a few mm to it’s waist size with the new Moto Mods Development Kit and personality cards for developers exclusively available from element14?




    So what is the Moto Mods Development Kit?

    The Moto Mods Development Kit is part of Motorola’s Moto Z family, it provides the tools for anyone from makers to established design houses to develop their own Moto Mod, IoT application, or to redefine what a smartphone can do.


    The purpose of Moto Mod platform is to enable innovative makers and developers  to transform the way people use smartphones. Simply by snapping on the Moto Mods Development Kit to the back of the Moto Z phone, users are provided with endless possibilities to contribute to and design the future of smartphone technology. This is all made possible by the revolutionary Moto Mod Smart Surface.


    The Smart Surface is a revolutionary concept that enables connectivity, attachment and alignment of Moto Mods. It supports a hot swap architecture without the clunky look and feel of traditional modular systems. All communication and power travels over a system of pins made from 23K gold with a hydrophobic nano coating. A metallic back plate serves as a magnetic attachment point.


    The unique ‘snap on’ capability of Moto Mods, customizing the phone without the need for internal integration, opens the market up to developers across the globe to design and commercialize their own mods, from a blood pressure monitor or game controller, to a credit card payment system or air pollution sensor.


    The Moto Mod platform has been designed to ensure the Moto Z phone maintains good wireless, audio and imaging performance whenever a commercial Moto Mod is snapped to the back of the phone.


    For more in depth details on the Mod Mods concept please continue reading below, and please note that you will require a Moto Z smartphone to operate the Moto Mods Development Kit and the Personality Cards.

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    The Moto Mods Platform

    The Moto Mods platform allows you to design and build your own Moto Mods. As a developer, you’ll be able to design Moto Mods that include a superspeed USB device or a small sensor  — and everything in between. Read more about the system architecture.


    Moto has integrated support for many Moto Mod protocols directly into Android. APIs have also been added to enable developers to build their own applications and communicate with their custom-designed Moto Mod. Developers can host their Android apps in the Google Play store. These apps are automatically downloaded and installed when the associated Moto Mod is attached for first time. Read more about the Mods SDK here.



    Make Anything

    Moto Z phones are designed to be compatible with any Moto Mod you create and certify through Motorola. The possibilities are practically limitless, from infrared cameras, e-ink displays, game controllers and printers to metal detectors, inventory tag readers, blood pressure monitors and even air pollution sensors.




    The Moto Mods

    When attached, the capability of the Moto Z is enhanced and extended by the unique hardware in your Moto Mod.


    The Moto Mod system is architected around a dual processor computing system that controls your unique hardware and manages communication with the Moto Z. You will need to create your own firmware, customized to your Moto Mod design. To simplify this process, Moto provides an easy-to-learn development environment along with the necessary tools.


    Your Moto Mod firmware can also be updated by any Moto Z using a custom Android API. This firmware can be hosted in the cloud or embedded into an Android app enabling you to roll out new experiences, features or bug fixes.


    More info on the Moto Mods firmware.



    The Moto Mods Development Kit

    In tandem with the Moto website, the Moto Mods Development Kit (MDK) provides the resources that a developer needs to prototype an idea and develop a commercial Moto Mod. Together with a Moto Z, the MDK is the ideal starting point for developing your own Moto Mod.

    Exploded View.pngThere are 3 parts to the Moto Mods Development Kit: the Reference Moto Mod, a Perforated Card and an example cover.


    Getting started is easy, simply connect the Mods Development Kit to your Moto Z and you’ll be able to test out and explore the “Hello, World!” example.  From there you can start developing your own Moto Mod prototype. You can also design and build your own 3D-printed housing to protect your prototype during development.


    There are two ways to get started on your prototype using the Reference Moto Mod with either the Perforated Board or HAT Adapter Board. For more details on how to use the MDK please click here.



    Perforated Board

    Perforated Card.png

    The Perforated Board is the primary vehicle for development of your MDK Project (one is included with the MDK, and further spare boards are available to purchase).


    Perfect for experimentation, the Perforated Board is a blank slate for soldering your own electrical components in place, it brings the 80-pin connector to an accessible surface.


    With 26 rows of solder points at 2.54mm pitch and power bus pins on each side, there is plenty of space for you to get your idea up and running.

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    HAT Adapter Board


    The HAT Adapter Board allows you to use existing Raspberry Pi HATs with the MDK.


    Motorola has introduced the HAT Adapter Board to further extend the design opportunities available through the MDK, by allowing you to connect existing Raspberry Pi HATs to the MDK.


    The HAT Adapter Board enables you to attach a wide variety of Raspberry Pi HATs to your Moto Mods Development Kit. It includes the standard 40-pin header, 15-pin camera and 15-pin display header in the exact dimensions and placement.


    This card plugs into the 80 pin connector that comes with the Reference Moto Mod. You will need to port or create the Moto Mod firmware (and associated Android application) to get your chosen HAT up and running.

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    Personality Cards

    To help you on your way, Motorola has created several Personality Cards that can be inserted into the Reference Moto Mod.


    Personality Cards connect directly to the Reference Moto Mod and serve as great examples of how you can build your own prototype.



    Each of these Personality Cards is a end-to-end example with open-sourced Moto Mod firmware and an Android app.


    There are four example Personality Cards:


    1. Audio Personality Card - Shows how to integrate a speaker and audio output into your MDK Project.

    The Audio Personality Card example shows how simple it is to add a loudspeaker or other audio device to your project.

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    2. Battery Personality Card - Shows how to integrate a rechargeable battery into your MDK Project.

    The Battery Personality Card example shows how you would extend the life of your phone or use it to run your Moto Mod even when it's not attached to a Moto Z.

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    3. Display Personality Card - Shows how to integrate a display and backlight into your MDK Project.

    The Display Personality Card example shows how to interface and control a display and backlight.

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    4. Temperature Sensor Personality Card - Shows how to integrate a custom temperature sensor into your MDK Project.

    The Temperature Sensor Personality Card is an example that shows how you would connect a unique sensor on your device and graph it on your phone’s screen.

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    Initially the Moto Mods Development Kit, Perforated Board, HAT Adapter Board, and Personality Cards will be available for sale in the US via our Newark element14 and MCM businesses. Global availability for these products is due to follow in autumn 2016.


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