Google’s Motorola announced its novelty, the Project Ara, back in October 2013 as the Internet seraching giant’s open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones.
When Google sold Motorola Mobility to Lenovo, the Mountain View giant took Project Ara with itself. The team developing Project Ara – the Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group led by Regina Dugan – was reported to be in cooperation with Google’s Android team.
By the way, it’s interesting to note that the recently announced Project Tango is also a work of the same group of professionals.
The phone maker had been involved into working on Project Ara for more than a year and it had also teamed up with Phonebloks, an open-source project that had been looking at creating modular smartphone components that can be easily replaced.
As reports claim, even Motorola’s program that allows consumers to order custom Moto X phones assembled at a Texas plant involves superficial factors such as case colors and materials, not unique features.
By implementing features as user-installable modules, the creators of the new project hope to make smartphones a whole lot more interesting.
“The question was basically, could we do for hardware what Android and other platforms have done for software?” says Paul Eremenko, the DARPA alumnus who leads the effort.
“Which means lower the barrier to entry to such a degree that you could have tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of developers as opposed to just five or six big [manufacturers] that could participate in the hardware space.”
Ara Knaian, Lead Mechanical Engineer on Project Ara, also said, “A big challenge on this project was that a cell phone is one of the most integrated things that’s made today, and we’re trying to separate it into modular pieces.”
He went on, adding: “And so the challenge was how to fit everything in an efficient way, so that people could have the ability at home to add and remove modules and have a lot of flexibility about what modules they put in, but not to have too much added weight or too much added cost by doing that.”
On the whole, the new Google’s is quite interesting and ambitious, but it’s unclear whether anyone really wants to purchase a modular smartphone.
In any case, the price tag was calculated in the right way: the Internet searching giant intends to start by selling a stripped down phone, without even a cellular connection, for $50.
While the novelty is expected to perform only as a basic smartphone features, adding more modules would enhance its abilities to meet its owner’s needs.
The upcoming conference is expected to give developers a detailed overview of what the new device will be. Just before the event Google plans to release the Ara Module Development Kit.
Although the company notes that it’ll give priority to in-person attendees, it’s not closing the doors on the conference — the company encourages both non-developers and enthusiasts to join via livestream, Mashable writes.