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#SaveTheOtherHalf: TOH development deserves a quantum leap

asked 2015-10-23 12:05:46 +0200

launchpad gravatar image

updated 2016-10-15 01:33:58 +0200

"The other Half" concept - despite it's distinction & potentials has never been implemented much beyond colorful plastic caps ( TOHKBD as a noteable exemption ) even though the concept bears a highly underestimated potential if further developed into a next generation / long-term evolution TOH system concept which could become implemented across many devices offspringing from future cooperations & licensings.

The revision of the concept should be :

  • Offering sufficient expansion space to other-half-circuitry so other halves only add a minimum of necessary bulk to thickness. About the footprint of the current battery dimensions could suffice to offer comfortable room ( maybe up to 2.5mm in height ? ) for expansions modules e.g. TOHKBD could only use a tiny headspace by the micro-SD slot to stow its entire circuitry components (!)

  • Introducing high-speed I/O-bandwidths to TOH-modules comparable to miniaturized bus-standards such as Mini-PCIe / M2. Not to mention it has to be implemented to support hot-swaps. This will allow connection of hardware such as additional processing units, mass storage, A/D converters or higher resolution cameras. Maybe the "Aistin Bus 24" can become a candidate.

  • Introducing a more resilient, "pro-grade" swap & mount system ( clip, rail or snap-in tbd ) supporting high interchange-rates without incurring structural damage to TOH-mounts & modules.

  • Offering improved built-quality by wider promotion of TOH-standards to potential suppliers. Home-made / crowd-funded approaches are sexy, exiting & open up opportunities, but cannot always offer solid / reliable quality of make & S/W support.e.g. some TOHKBD-keys do not work constantly reliable - what can become frustrating over time

  • TOH-standards could be promoted across Android / Blackberry / Winphone eco-systems to increase a critical user base for other halves. Jolla could lead such an initiative such as Ericsson once did with Bluetooth.

  • Next generation TOH-standards should become protected and volume-licensable i.e. even if no fees would be charged right from the beginning.

  • Motivating, inciting & challenging creative people to come up with further ideas & projects offering real awards such as funding, consultancy or contacts to networks.

  • Concurrent, community-based pre-release alpha/beta-testing. Alpha-testing could occur on a non-disclosure-basis by hand-picked developers & test-drivers.

Some more ideas ( the forum is actually full of ) what TOH expansions could offer / do:

  • enhanced camera modules / mateable camera bodies ( cf. Huawei "ShotX" or "Light L16" for inspiration )
  • ( self-encrypting ) NAS-OTG SSD storage module ( allowing to directly dump picture files via WiFi from external cameras. It may also include a fingerprint reader on the rear for security reasons )
  • satellite phone module ( e.g. at competitive pricing )
  • entertainment devices such as glass-membrane speakers, video projectors or gamepads
  • educational XO-TOH ( e.g. by cooperating with OLPC )
  • pro-tools: network-admin "swiss-army-knife" analyzers, laser measuring modules, RF scanners, multimeter-modules, etc.
  • medical modules such as blood analysis sensors or mobile microscopes
  • scientific field modules such as micro-/macroscopes or spectrometers
  • portable amateur or maritime VHF/UHF radio modules
  • aftermarket vehicle entertainment docks ( see French maker Parrot for some ideas )
  • RC / control devices with TOH-compatible docks ( e.g. RC model controllers with optimized RX/TX )
  • portable chess / game TOH ( e.g. by cooperations with companies such as Dutch DGT or HK-based Saitek )
  • astronaut wrist dock ( just to check if so reads that far .... ;) )
  • TOH development kits ( docks / boards / modules ) in jolla store
  • TOH capable tablet devices - i.e. future ( jolla-made ? ) tablets accepting TOH-modules as well ( which not necessarily need to cover the entire rear side, but integrate smoothly by design )

Current approaches include :

• Lenovo — the current "bull's eye" approach
see below

• LG
see below

• Microsoft
see below

• Intel
"Intel will also be offering various lids that can be purchased for the NUC 2.0 models. They had a prototype Hauppauge TV tuner on one model and then another with a removeable lid that had built-in NFC. Intel is working with a number of companies to come up with innovative removable lids as that is one of the new features of the Broadwell based NUC’s."

Interesting community examples include :

Personal note, Feb. 22nd 2016:
realizing an undeniable moderate pace of jolla's recovery as a company as such and it's unspectacular ( but important ) presence @MWC2016, I must admit I somehow doubt right now that jolla will consider TOH concept of future relevance. I'll be leaving this thread open as such for reference. It feels a bit weird right now to think about TOHs unless @jolla would be giving reason. Feel free to contribute anyway. Greetings, launchpad

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To be fair, no pun intended, the Sailfish on Fairphone 2 is by Jolla community not Jolla company. IMHO, that is "same" as already existing ports of Sailfish to other phones - provided by the community. Eventhough, Jolla company is suporting the project. However, the collabortion with Intex and Jolla company regarding the comming Intex Aqua Fish running Sailfish is more accurate to your "sidestepping of original Jolla phone concept" scenario.

With that said, I totally agree with you, that a more powerful TOH would be greatly appriciated.

nick75 ( 2015-10-23 12:15:22 +0200 )edit

@nick75 .... hi & thanks for your comment ! :) Sailfish on Fairphone 2 is awsome, I agree - but it has no further extensibility by other halves - for that a distinctive, enhancing part is missing in contrast to the original jolla concept. I admired the original jolla phone concept for it's extensibility by other halves - and could live with the non-upgradability of a CPU board. The combination of both: Fairphone's modularity plus TOH would made me invest instantaneously. Right now I'm thinking - why they chose Fairphone as "another brick" instead of the Gigaset ME series for example .... "just" to Sailfish another device :/. I'm really hoping for a real Jolla-2-design by jolla which will not become thicker in formfactor but more clearly marks a point in the potentials of TOH-concept and promoting this widely !

launchpad ( 2015-10-23 12:30:07 +0200 )edit

.... btw my wife wouldn't like to get a Fairphone 2, because it is missing a swappable "Nadeshiko pink" option :D

launchpad ( 2015-10-23 12:55:58 +0200 )edit

@launchpad You have to give her a DIY kit ... ;)

nick75 ( 2015-10-23 13:00:17 +0200 )edit

:D ... would look somthing like that !

launchpad ( 2015-10-23 13:29:11 +0200 )edit

8 Answers

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answered 2015-11-04 10:05:29 +0200

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updated 2015-11-04 10:07:47 +0200

launchpad gravatar image

More than 1200 backers were spending between EUR 100 to EUR 200 for the TOH keyboard module ( kickstarter numbers ) ... If TOH modules offer the right value for money, there is a real chance for sales.

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The TOH Keyboard is a totally underestimated idea from Jolla in my opinion.

Unfortunately you can't order it anymore and it is not a commercial product, but with a good quality TOH keyboard maybe approved by Jolla I would order it directly.

I think this is one of the most missed opportunities that Jolla had. I think there is a market especially since everybody is constantly using IM and other keyboard related features. It was THE chance to really be unlike.

PatsJolla ( 2016-01-22 00:44:52 +0200 )edit

@PatsJolla: Completely agree. In fact, I think that a good quality keyboard would have been a far more useful development than the tablet débâcle - cheaper and easier to realise too! There are thousands of tablet models on the market already, many of which can run Sailfish, but there are very few phones which offer a dedicated physical keyboard. Considering the geek-level of typical Jolla customers I reckon they would almost sell as many keyboards as phones.

Lomax ( 2016-01-26 21:52:25 +0200 )edit

@Lomax exactly... the phone would become a mini tablet with real keyboard considering the typical on screen keyboard sizes I assume on a 7" Tablet stays also not much more space for the rest of the app when the keyboard appears. And the tablet market is somehow progress or innovation 10" 8" 12" red gold white... nothing to camp infront of a store for...but a convertable phone open, community driven --- killer feature

PatsJolla ( 2016-01-26 23:17:30 +0200 )edit

answered 2015-10-29 18:02:30 +0200

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This post is a wiki. Anyone with karma >75 is welcome to improve it.

updated 2016-02-22 18:19:35 +0200

launchpad gravatar image

Jolla should seek a creative development partnership to bring "The other half" concept onto a new level of convincing, futureproof technology - why not "crazy brainstorming" with creative console makers such as Nintendo or OUYA ?

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or a simple product which improve some comfort thing, like an nfc toh with station, just for charging battery (and maybe data exchange) wireless. is not for an extremely high complexity. and have some comfort extras

cemoi71 ( 2016-02-01 16:01:47 +0200 )edit

answered 2016-01-31 13:48:26 +0200

shiro kitsune gravatar image

updated 2016-02-22 18:18:40 +0200

launchpad gravatar image

Even Microsoft is supposedly working on extended hardware now!!! See here and here When even Microsoft starts working on interchangeable hardware there is probably a market for it, and (in my humble opinion) this is just a stepstone to something like TOH, which Jolla already has. So, Jolla, please, please reboot the idea of TOH. The full potential was never really used.

P.S. is the idea of other half protected by Jolla? If yes, this could become a nice pocket money if big business copies the idea.

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@shiro kitsune : Thanks for sharing this !

Literally from "feel free to speculate" to zugzwang ...


They came up with this by 2013 :

but "the other they" realized it by 2016 :

Not much to say in addition ...

launchpad ( 2016-02-01 09:45:22 +0200 )edit

@shiro kitsune : Yes, patented to some extent ...

"Patented Jolla technology The Other Half is an original Jolla innovation. Manufactured from ultra-durable and scratch resistant polycarbonate, it’s more than just a fresh coat of paint. Each color option packs a unique ambience with custom sounds, wallpapers and more. Your Jolla automatically detects The Other Half and instantly adapts the look and feel of your phone with wireless NFC technology."



launchpad ( 2016-02-01 09:49:48 +0200 )edit

answered 2015-11-10 01:27:52 +0200

dac gravatar image

updated 2016-02-22 18:19:12 +0200

launchpad gravatar image

Seems that some of your points would be fulfilled by the "custom Heart" approach of the Puzzlephone on Indiegogo. I know it is not TOH - The Other Half, but rather The Other Heart, and it is (at least now) not the whole backside, but a module on the lower back. But who knows what could be built around it... The advantages referring to your question:

  1. USB connection (even maybe USB3) ->bandwidth, hotswap
  2. possibly better attaching mechanism (looks like rail or so with screwmounts?)
  3. multi platform approach (as long as in the Puzzlephone standard), Android option

SFOS for PuzzlePhone will come, as they announced on Slush and on their Blog...

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As you say "it is not TOH".

Also I'm always careful (not to say suspicious) about those announcements. Many companies make a lot of announcement for very different reasons, especially in high competitive markets. The PuzzlePhone company (from what I get form there web site only) does not seem to have an "open door" policy, the way Jolla has. Just because they claim the specifications are open (which could be read in a lot of different ways), not necessarily means "Yeah sure, take it and tinker around with the Hard- and|or Software as you please! And BTW here is the SDK and some STL files to get you started. If you have problems, just ask."

I'm not saying they won't. All I'm saying is Jolla and TOH are here. Are they perfect? By no means. But than, nothing ever is (so the jobs of engineers are save! :)

Joerg ( 2015-11-13 02:28:53 +0200 )edit

Well, true. I didn't want to say everything is perfect. But what they present seems interesting and with potential. And I hope that it will be that "open door" way, at least to a point.. At least they offer their piece maker perk with STL files, guide, break out board for prototyping and open bootloader etc... So I guess we'll find out.

dac ( 2015-11-13 10:09:58 +0200 )edit

a simple TOH with integrated screen cover - so we don't need a a stupid ugly flip case like everybody else - would be quite unlike.

danfin ( 2016-02-01 20:32:07 +0200 )edit

@Joerg The PuzzlePhone people actually did say pretty much exactly that during the campaign. The device is rooted by default, you are ioonvited to tinker and make it you own device and design, hardware and software well documented and, as @dac points out, a maker perk was offered which includes: 1. Access to the PuzzlePhone Makers Community for updates on these materials during the R&D process 2. 3D CAD of casework in STL format for 3D printing prior to end of campaign 3. Puzzlephone Design Guide: How to make your own modules 4. Module connector cables in various lengths, plus break out connector board 5. Unlocked boot-loader

You can't be more open than that.

I am really happy about the fp2 running SFOS so nicely (and I hope there will be some licensing option to receive full-fletched Jolla support) - but embracing the PuzzlePhone would revive the TOH concept and lift it to a higher level. I think they are a perfect match for Jolla as a hardware partner and I hope we hear some exiting news during the WMC.

DieUnwucht ( 2016-02-19 12:23:22 +0200 )edit

answered 2016-10-14 22:21:38 +0200

PatsJolla gravatar image

updated 2016-10-14 22:22:00 +0200

There is also the new Lenovo Moto Z approach...which is a clear copy of the TOH idea in my eyes.

I just have a link to german but there is a video included where you can see it live:

Heise and the bit longer test with more pictures on


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One is the hasselbad photo objective for smartphones.
Someone may ask if hasselbad could do a photo TOH for jolla...

cemoi71 ( 2016-10-14 22:51:47 +0200 )edit

Hey, at least we can now say we had it first.

nthn ( 2016-10-15 00:05:32 +0200 )edit

sill bothers me that now it looks as this was an idea of the big ones... even in the article no mention of Jollas TOH...

PatsJolla ( 2016-10-15 00:29:47 +0200 )edit

answered 2016-02-22 18:17:23 +0200

launchpad gravatar image

updated 2016-10-14 21:58:03 +0200

LG's G5 approach:

"Transformative design featuring slide out battery and modular functionality."

Modules available by MWC 2016:
• B&O sound module:
• enhanced camera ctrl module:
• Parrot Drone controller : "allows you to take advantage of the modular design of the phone by docking it right into a controller for your drone."

More infos :

Future will tell if this "hypie" approach will last @LG - even though jolla's TOH concept features interchange without the need for removing the battery.

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answered 2016-10-15 01:23:37 +0200

launchpad gravatar image

updated 2016-10-15 01:48:31 +0200

Lenovo "Moto Z" / "Moto Z play"

"Transform your phone in a snap"

Modules, called "MotoMods" available according product website:
• Swappable Backs "to fit your style" — 6 styles available
• "Moto Insta-Share" Projector "Instantly turns any surface into a 70" big screen" — with integrated battery
• JBL SoundBoost Speaker "Snap on and play instantly" — built-in kickstand ... [ remember N900 ? ;) ]
• Hasselblad True Zoom "10X optical zoom" — Physical shutter & zoom controls [ d O_< YEAH !! ]

More infos :

Press commentsseems Lenovo hit the bull's eye with a decent concept ... ; )

"Apple must be wondering how its designers were caught asleep at the innovation switch by Moto ... "
Network World, August 3, 2016

"Motorola's approach to modularity is the most elegant you'll find on the market right now."
Engadget, July 16, 2016

"So muss ein Smartphone mit Modulen aussehen !"
Golem, October 10, 2016

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If Motorola is open with this standard, a Sailfish device supporting these modules would be great!

StaticNoiseLog ( 2016-10-15 05:53:29 +0200 )edit

There is a thread on TMO where they are working on crowdfunding a TOH keyboard for Moto Z/Play via indiegogo:

TMO thread

indiegogo link

Now we just need to port Sailfish to Moto Z.

decon ( 2017-02-25 11:46:29 +0200 )edit

answered 2015-11-13 09:06:10 +0200

evo3de gravatar image

I love my Car-OH, ok i have a lot of to do on this, but it works also fine.

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Asked: 2015-10-23 12:05:46 +0200

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Last updated: Oct 15 '16