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Project Ara, the modular smartphone: how does it work?

Sterling Keys

The Ara Project has basically come out of the obscurity of being a really hopeful idea when it was introduced as PhoneBloks to becoming a more concrete reality day by day. Google has gone full steam ahead with Project Ara and Paul Eremenko, head of Project Ara, has already revealed a prototype of the anticipated device. 

google ara1 820x420
© Slash Gear

A 7-minute video, which has since been removed by YouTube, showed images of how the Project Ara modular smartphone would piece together. Eremenko takes the assembled Ara smartphone, as seen above, and starts dismantling it piece by piece. At the end, all we see is the metal “base plate” that holds everything together and holds the battery.

In terms of the strength of the modular construction, the pieces will be held together by a magnetic force, much like the Apple charger for their MacBook Pro line, and can be removed with a few newtons of pressure. The whole construction is also strengthened by the insertion slots to provide added stability and further protection.

googleara apart
 © Slash Gear

The basic framework of the device is the battery base plate as well as the different modular pieces that will make up the various parts of the phone. Right now, it seems that Google will limit partitioning scheme of the modules, for example making sure that they are within a 1x1 or 2x1 block, in order to make cross-compatibility a non-issue when developers enter into the grand scheme of things.

Right now, Google has stated that the pricing for the simple base of the battery, base plate, screen, and Wi-Fi compatibility will run about $50, with different base options being offered as well. From there, if Project Ara sees the light of day in the consumer market, you will be able to pick and choose different modules to buy and add onto your device as you see fit.

While Project Ara still has a science-fiction feel to it, Google has made it apparent that they plan on continuing its development and showcasing at various events in 2014. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for more information about Project Ara as time goes on. It’s definitely an interesting concept and something that could change the way we use mobile devices should it become a reality.