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Motorola introduces Project Ara: build your smartphone piece-by-piece

Loie Favre
2

Imagine if smartphones could be built the way you want them to be, with all sorts of different combinations possible with various parts made from different manufacturers and developers. This open-source hardware idea is the basis of a new initiative developed by Motorola’s Advanced Technology and Projects group. Today they announced Project Ara. 

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This is how a Project Ara smartphone could look like. © Motorola

Just like the software from many different developers that can be used on Android devices, allowing the user the freedom to pick and choose the applications they want to use, Motorola wants to do the same for hardware. Buyers would be able to select whether they want an extra battery, a new keyboard, a different screen and so on and so forth. All of these parts, called modules, would then be tacked on to the endoskeleton or ‘endo’ which would then hold all the various pieces in place. This is to be the driving force of this open hardware platform that serves the purpose of allowing third-party developers to submit their parts, where the barriers have been lowered to also welcome new-comers and entry-level technology. Motorola believes that this would decrease production time so the end user would have their creation in hand much sooner than they do now.  

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To build a smartphone they'll use modules: these could be any type of part, like a battery, screen, keyboard, all of which you can mix and match. / © Motorola

You may have heard of Phonebloks, a company that is already working on this idea. According to Paul Eremenko of the Project Ara Team, Motorola will take care of the technology side of the development, while Phonebloks’ team, led by creator Dave Hakkens, will continue to forge a community strong enough to back the idea.

So this is the idea, what’s next? Phonebloks and the Project Ara Team are assigning their research scouts with the task of learning more about their target audiences, to determine exactly what it is consumers want to have in a handset. Next, they plan on inviting developers to start working on the Ara platform in the coming months and they suspect that in winter time they’ll launch the Module Developer’s Kit to get this project underway.

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Project Ara will use an 'endoskeleton' to hold all the modules together. © Motorola

What do you think of this lego-like smartphone building project? Do you think that it will prosper and change smartphones as we know itor is this to be a niche initiative for a select few? 

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Comments

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  • Gio A. 11 months ago Link

    I think it's a cool idea and hope that it will catch on. would it not be cool to be able to upgrade your screen or maybe your cpu and ram if a better one comes out. this would also finally allow you to have that costume personal phone you might have always wanted. You could keep using it year over year without having to buy a completely new phone every year or two because you could keep updating it with the latest parts. Now that's the kind of future I would want.

    The next thing they should do is try to make it all smooth in the back or making a nice case for it because it doesn't look comfortable right now. But I might be mistaken.

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  • Joost S. 11 months ago Link

    I really like the idea. I think this brings the desktop pc market idea to the phone market. People that would like to keep upgrading there phone can do that part by part like building a (game) computer or just stay with the parts they have.

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