by Dustin Stevenson

Three years ago, This Is Ground conceived of the Mod Tablet, a wonderfully modular case, built to solve the needs of creative professionals. Since its introduction to the wild, the Mod has become the ultimate travel companion for designers, executives, Silicon Valley tech legends, leading chefs and foodies, A-list actors, musicians, and global citizens of all stripes.

Now, after three years of intensive user testing, countless prototypes and at least two small explosions during experimentation, This Is Ground is excited to share their most advanced Mod Tablet ever, the Mod 3.

The Mod 3’s vocabulary is clean geometric lines, stitched in a collection of custom Italian leathers. This Is Ground’s ethos revolves around highly specific gear and use cases. Like a good author, they understand that inspiration is found in precision. In a world flooded with carryalls, This Is Ground is obsessed with the particular tools and exact needs of creative professionals, travelers and tech enhanced adventurers. In the Mod 3, everything has its right place.

Mod Tablet 3 with the redesigned Executive Insert.

Placing a grid over the interior reveals the alignment of each element. This implicit order lends the Mod 3 a sense of calm, an opportunity for serenity and expression. As our investment in technology grows, the pace of life accelerates the pace of our lives and productivity tools further augment our capacity, the Mod offers an orientation of stability from which to create.

Every Mod is a personal platform, able to be customized with unique inserts. Since the development of the original Mod, the Executive Insert has remained This Is Ground’s most popular. The engineers working on the new Mod 3, were given a simple challenge: integrate the features of the Executive Insert into the shell of the case itself. The result is a totally reimagined left panel.

With this change in hand, This Is Ground set about redeveloping the Executive Insert itself. They found inspiration in the minimalist grids and rectangular recursions of the artist Piet Mondrian:

Tableau I, 1921
Mondrian dresses by Yves Saint Laurent shown with a Mondrian painting in 1966.

With more organization built into the shell, the new Executive insert is slim and free of hardware. Offering instead subtle spaces for essentials such as cards, a pen and notepad.

The Mod is about telling stories. In developing and beta testing the Mod’s new design, TIG examined the smallest movements users make within their Mod, finding spaces for efficiency. Each area possesses intention. The flow of use was considered. The location of a pen, relative to a notebook, relative to the space for a business card — each has a purpose.

Eye tracking and flow study.

Mod users have long been surprised by how much gear their case can carry, but one of the primary goals for the Mod 3 was adding even more depth, while maintaining the Mod’s slim profile. This Is Ground achieved this by sourcing a unique, wider zipper tape, custom-fitted to the new Mod 3.

Mod 2 width on left, Mod 3 width on right.

With additional volume available, lead designer Nisha Rabiee set about developing an intricate layered system cleverly concealed within the Mod’s construction. These changes allowed TIG to build in organization to the right panel of the Mod for the first time. Prior editions had ceded this space to a tablet and little else. Mod 3 users will have dedicated spaces for cards, passport, or notebook, in addition to their tablet of choice.

TIG also used this added real estate to seamlessly integrate Tile, the world’s premier Bluetooth tracking tool, into the body of the Mod. Just pair the free included Tile with your phone and never lose your Mod.

Another change in the new Mod is simplification of tablet specific sizing. Since its inception the Mod offered various sizes tailored around the specifications of the newest tablets. In the three years since the Mod was conceived, diversity of tablet sizing has proliferated. A tablet has a lifecycle of 3–5 years, but the Mod is built to be a heritage piece, lasting a lifetime. By tethering Mod sizes too tightly to tablets of the moment, This Is Ground realized that they were limiting their users. The Mod Tablet 3 comes in a single size capable of accommodating an iPad Air, a Google Pixel C, as well as any number of smaller tablets.

During the testing phase of the Mod 3, This Is Ground was inspired by their friends at Drawsta’s new form of Augmented Reality. Working with Drawsta animators, TIG crafted a limited run of AR enabled leather inserts that will allow a select number of Mod 3 users to generate ever shifting holographic video images within their Mod.

AR product education.

Product level education is almost always boring. No one wants to read a manual; no one wants to go to a webpage. This Is Ground’s products are designed to be intuitive, but the Drawsta AR gave them an opportunity to share product details in a fun way, while also creating a format that allows an ongoing conversation. In the coming days, This Is Ground’s AR content will change and expand as new holograms appear inside the Mod 3.

This Is Ground started prototyping the new Mod in early 2016, but the process of iteration began the day the Mod 2 was released. This Is Ground’s engineers never stop observing and refining the user experience. To date the Mod 3 has been rigorously tested by users in LA, New York, Portland, Vancouver, London, Cape Town, Kuala Lumpur, Berlin and Tokyo, and now is ready to be shared with the world.

The Mod Tablet 3 will ship in September 2016. To learn more about the Mod Tablet 3 and to be alerted on news and availability, sign up for alerts at

For wholesale and custom inquiries, visit our friends at Ground Control.

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