RePhone is the world’s first open source, modular smartphone


Seeed Studio’s new kit enables Makers to create their own phone and hack inanimate things with the power of cellular communication.


When it comes to electronics, the concept of modularity continues to rise in popularity — and rightfully so. Rather than have to endure the high cost of a new gadget every few years, you’ll soon be able to swap out individual parts and simply upgrade your existing device whenever necessary. Reminiscent of Google’s Project Ara, our friends over at Seeed Studio have joined the party by launching a Kickstarter campaign for a DIY smartphone made entirely from open source components.

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Called RePhone, the modular kit enables you to create your own phone as well as hack other objects around you by giving them the power of cellular communication. Pretty cool, right? The unit itself is built around the RePhone GSM + BLE module, or the RePhone Core 3G module which provides faster data connection yet lacks Bluetooth. But that’s not all.

Seeed will offer an assortment of Xadow add-on modules, each with their own set of unique features. These include a 1.54” touchscreen, an Arduino-compatible MCU (ATmega32U4), a basic sensor board, a GPS board, an audio board, a 5×7 LED board, a GSM breakout board and an NFC board. These can be connected using an FPC cable (11 or 35 pin), soldered wires, conductive thread or a breadboard. Plus, the DIY device is powered a 520mAh battery.

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Additionally, Seeed has unveiled a RePhone Create Kit, which lets you design and customize a phone enclosure out of kraft paper. This material is sewable, washable, and most importantly, easy to draw on. Makers will be able to personalize their cases in all sorts of shapes, colors and styles.

The modular gadget is indeed a fully-functional tool, which can be used like any other everyday phone to make and receive calls, send text messages, and play music. Seeed has devised Arduino, Lua and Javascript libraries, as well as a full power SDK based on Eclipse for C/C++ developers. What’s more, the RePhone can be programmed with IFTTT logic. This allows you to define and implement recipes for various actions, such as being notified if your dog wanders off or your bike gets lost.

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“The modular design of RePhone brings limitless DIY possibilities. Those tiny neat blocks can be fit into a phone enclosure of any size, shape, or style you like,” Seeed Studio writes. “You can make your RePhone even cooler with different materials like leather, fabric and bamboo. Build a sturdy case with 3D printing, laser cutting, CNC and injection molding.”

To top it all off, the device is compatible with both the Arduino and Pebble. RePhone creates alternative ways to communicate with inanimate things in your physical world over GSM and 3G, whether that’s a walking cane phone for grandpa, a GPS pet collar, an interactive t-shirt or a rigged desk lamp. The possibilities are endless.

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Ready to piece together your own RePhone? Although Seeed Studio has already completed its Kickstarter campaign, which garnered over $276,000, you can still pre-order yours today here.

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