Asus gets futuristic with modular PC

Laptop manufacturer Asus has unveiled its vision of the future — a modular PC that stacks on a shelf

Laptop manufacturer Asus on Wednesday unveiled a blue-sky design for a modular PC that stacks on a shelf.

The separate modules would both communicate wirelessly and be powered wirelessly through inductive charging — something that isn't feasible today.

A row of laptop modules on a gray shelf

A user would build their own PC by stacking individual modules — such as hard drive, battery and card reader — together. Full-size modules, approximately the size of a CD, would stack next to half-size modules.

A schematic of the modules

Asus said the prototype PC is an extension of its "modulisation" philosophy, which the laptop manufacturer claims is more environmentally friendly.

"The IT industry is causing a lot of environmental problems," said Markus Wierzoch, design manager at Asus. "The WEEE directive will force manufacturers to take back products at the end of their lifecycle. We want to help create a more sustainable world, but we also want to lift our brand. We are hoping to profit by it," Wierzoch added.

The computer manufacturer is looking at the possibility of leasing individual component modules, so that it would be easier for users to repair and replace them. Asus imagines a situation where customers would be able to order components online, and pick and choose specifications.

"This is a couple of years away," said Wierzoch. "The main problems we are working on are how to use inductive charging over Wi-Fi, and how wireless connectivity can be achieved between the modules," Wierzoch added.

Asus is trying to develop an efficient way of inducing an electrical charge to power components wirelessly. At present, inductive charging does not supply the necessary amounts of power to run a PC.

There also isn't yet a standard for a wireless technology that can transfer data between the different modules quickly enough.

The prototype PC was shown off at a press event in London on Wednesday to launch Asus' most recent range of laptops.