Modulator

Direct phone-to-phone communication module for the Moto Z and IoT devices.

No cell service? No problem!

The Modulator Moto Mod functions as a digital walkie-talkie so you can communicate securely with your friends and devices.

Introducing The Moto Z And Moto Mods

The Moto Z and Moto Mods are Motorola's flagship modular smartphone and open hardware platform released in 2016. Base of the platform is the Moto Z device. A variety of Moto Mods™ can be attached to the phone to add unique functionality not normally found on current smartphones such as a projector, enhanced audio and photography capabilities, and in our case a secure, phone-to-phone, digital communication module.

Moto Mods Scattered Parts

Modulator + Moto Mods

The Modulator team submitted ideas to Motorola and received the developer hardware early in 2017. We recognized early on that there is a huge opportunity in the revolution that Moto Mods and the Moto Z platform will bring to the smartphone world.

Modulator Moto Mods Module

Direct Communication, No Fees

The core concept behind our Moto Mod concept is to enable Moto Z devices with our Modulator Moto Mod communicate directly with each other without the need for any existing network infrastructure and with some actual usable range similar to current standalone digital portable radios. We are also building an ecosystem of sensors that can be accessed directly from a Moto Z device with our Moto Mod. The target frequency bands are license free and present no cost to the user. The use cases for this type of direct device-to-device communication are numerous.

  • Areas With No Cell Service
  • Developing Nations With Fewer Existing Networks
  • The Great Outdoors: Camping, Skiing, Boating...
  • Think Walkie-Talkies That Can Text And Send Media Files

  • Privacy & Security Conscious Users
  • Transmitted Data Does Not Pass Through Any Third Party
  • Private Channels, Broadcast Capability, Multi-User Support
  • Encryption Is Enabled By Default In Radio Protocol
  • Frequency-Hopping Spread Spectrum
  • IoT Devices
  • Proven Industrial Use Technology
  • IEEE 802.15.4 Compatibility Is Possible
  • Monitor Remote Devices From Your Phone
  • Direct Messaging Beacons For Public Spaces

  • Existing Phones
  • Relays To Link Existing Phones
  • Think Private Communication Tower
  • Uses Industry Standard Protocols To Link Existing Devices

Complex Software, Simple Presentation

Despite the fact that the underlying radio hardware and software is quite complex, the application interface is presented in a straight forward and easy to use format. Users will find the application simple to understand, yet provides a feature-rich experience. There are advanced features which will impress hardcore radio geeks and intuitive user flows for casual users.


All Signs Point To Yes

The Moto Z platform and Moto Mods have enormous potential. The edge cases alone for relays for existing phones and standalone IoT devices have significant potential on their own.

  • Product Specification Already Defined
  • Moto Mods developers are required to follow the specification created by Motorola so product development is greatly simplified, we already know how the product must look and function. There are small allowances for differentiation, but modules MUST follow the spec.

  • Sales Channel In Place
  • The sales channel for the Moto Mods™ will be the same as the existing Motorola phone distribution system with the devices being sold in physical stores by carriers and by Motorola and Moto Mods™ manufacturers online.
  • Mass Market
  • Motorola's Moto Z line of phones has been successful and Motorola aims to increase it's market share in the mobile devices space with Moto Mods. Moto Z phones have sold well, reportedly selling 1 million units since release.

  • Opportunities Outside Of Moto Mods
  • There is an empty space in the market for direct communication solutions for existing phones. We have been working on this as well, it's basically the other half of our test prototype.

Get Ready

The Modulator team has been selected to participate in the Mod The Smartphone challenge where teams will compete to develop and present their Moto Mod™ concept to judges select by Motorola and Lenovo.


Risks And Costs

There are some costs and risks we have identified as part of our market analysis.

  • FCC Certification Cost
  • Due to the fact that the Modulator module and related products are radio frequency producing devices, the products will require FCC certification testing. We have researched this extensively and we are basing our module on reference designs that have been tested for certification and provided by our component suppliers. To proceed with FCC certification we would need to produce prototypes of the final module design and antenna configuration. We will have the necessary developer hardware and support from Motorola to obtain FCC certification.

  • Branding
  • We are not fully committed to Modulator. We are waiting for confirmation from Motorola about whether or not we will be able to use the word "Moto" in our branding and advertising. If so, we may adjust to include Moto in the branding. We also have an alternate name, DirecTalk, which we might possibly use, which also happens to be a digital radio that Motorola marketed in the past.
  • Competitors
  • We are fairly certain that there is at least one other team working on a walkie-talkie type Moto Mod™. We feel we have some unique ideas that will strongly differentiate our Moto Mod™ from the competition.

  • Moto Mods Flops
  • There is a chance that Moto Mods launches and it does not do well in the market. This does not seem likely but remains a possibility. The low cost of producing the modules should take some of the risk out of being left with unsold units. There is also the prospect of being able to use the Moto Mods modules directly with the Raspberry Pi platform which would offer another avenue for selling remaining inventory.


Technology Stack

The technology stack behind Modulator encompasses a number of exciting areas. Moto Mods devices will run the Android operating system and use the newly created UniPro bus standard for routing data between the phones components. The radio frequency stack is based on proven, license free ISM band technology. The Modulator software is FCC Part 15.247 compliant, enabling the module to use the highest allowable transmit power for the target frequency band. Privacy and security are assured with strong encryption and a novel system for generating private channels composed of randomized sets of frequencies for use with our proprietary FHSS (frequency-hopping spread spectrum) data transmission algorithms. The application code will be portable between the Moto Mods phones and other devices.


The Modulator module design for Moto Mods features a digital radio transceiver along with an amplifier to ensure a strong signal. Modulator's intelligent radio protocol adjusts to the strength of the signals from other users on your private channel. Far away and low signal strength? You can still send text messages. Close by with a strong signal? Send voice messages and media files as if you were on a regular cell network.


The Modulator app allows you to see the signal strength of users on your channel and intelligently adjusts the data rate according to the signal strength. Users can also configure the Modulator app to allow their GPS coordinates to be sent in the beacon messages so you can see where your friends are at any time. Another important feature not availble with analog walkie-talkies is message delivery confirmation. Since the radio packet protocol has built-in support for acknowledgements, users will know if their messages are getting to the intended recipient.


The Team


Kevin O'Brien, Founder

Kevin is currently a Senior Software Engineer for CA Technologies based in Vancouver, BC. He has 10+ years of experience in the enterprise software field. A life-long hacker, his first computer was a Commodore Vic 20. Kevin's experience spans many aspects of modern computing.


Victor Kazakov, Developer

Victor Kazakov is a Principal Software Architect with CA Technologies with 8 years of experience as a developer and architect. -- I knew I’ve wanted to be in software since I was a young kid. Starting with figuring out how to navigate DOS (so that I could launch my favorite games). Leading to a more formal introduction in high school; followed by a Bachelors in Computing Science at Simon Fraser University. I have worked in the Vancouver area at several different software companies. I enjoy working on complex problems and designing intricate systems. It is exciting figuring out how to optimize different components and services. The best feeling in the world is when you hit the GO button, all the bells and whistles go off and all the light turn on as they are supposed to; especially when you know everything that is happening in the background to make it work.