Before the release of Android, smartphone makers faced a similarly byzantine set of challenges. (How do you manage memory? Download content from the web? Host third-party apps?) By giving away its operating system, Android freed manufacturers from worrying about any of that stuff, resulting in an explosion of smartphone models.
And that’s just the kind of platform Rubin hopes to build with Playground—providing all the basic hardware and software components so entrepreneurs can concentrate on generating interesting devices. Those components come courtesy of the Studio, which plays a role for Playground’s startups similar to the one the Q Department plays for James Bond. If you’re building a drone and need the best available microphone array, the seasoned technologists in the Studio will simply give it to you. (And they’ll know what next year’s microphone arrays will look like, so you can be sure your design is future-proof.) “It’s modular hardware,” Rubin says. “A couple of years from now, you could roll in here with an idea, and we could just rearrange these modules.”