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Toshiba Unveils Camera Modules For Project Ara [Video]

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Toshiba, one of the OEMs to have signed up to create modules for Google's Project Ara, has taken the wraps off its camera modules for the initiative.

Google's ambitious modular phone Project Ara will enable users to customize the components of their smartphone and help them "make functional and aesthetic choices about their device." Project Ara is intended to give users the option to upgrade devices via plugin modules. These could be batteries, onboard camera, CPU and displays, among others.

Toshiba is among third-party firms on board for Project Ara for the creation of these plugin modules. The Japanese company is showing off the first-ever swappable camera module for the Ara ecosystem in a YouTube video.

The camera on an Ara phone will be swappable, and smartphone users will have the option of upgrading with the purchase of an improved camera optic to replace the older one.

At the Modular Phones Forum last week, Toshiba also showed off a few of its initial camera designs. Toshiba is working on three separate modules for Project Ara: a 2MP front-facing camera and a 5MP and 13MP rear-facing camera resolutions. The two primary cameras deploy the 2x1 segment size.

These three modules are part of the company's Phase 1 development. Phase 2 will see Toshiba take the wraps off a larger selection of camera modules. Phase 3, which is still in planning, is expected to bring "unique modules" to the table. All the three phases are slated to be completed within 2016.

In the near term, Toshiba is poised to create modules in 1x 1, 1x2 and 2x2 sizes. These modules will also pack in NFC capabilities, TransferJet and wireless charging. These features are expected to be released in 2015.

Toshiba has also let on that the company has sensors in several resolutions, which go up to 20MP. It also has a special sensor that can go up to 900 frames per second.

"We have image sensors coming in various megapixel range: 8 Mpx, 13 Mpx, 20 Mpx. They all come in different optical format, with different frame rate," said Shardul Kazi, senior vice president of Toshiba America.

Check out the video of the 5MP prototype Toshiba camera module in action below:

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