Motorola has just announced what looks to be quite possibly their most ambitious undertaking since designing the first cellular phone. Project Ara will bring the concept of the modular phone to real life.
Some time ago now, a concept project called Phonebloks was making the rounds getting everyone all excited at what looked to be the best thing that would never happen to smartphones. Based on the idea that if you can customize the software on your phone, why not the hardware, Phonebloks’ wanted to put the power of building your own device in the palm of your hand. Phonebloks wanted to make modular smartphones, where every component of the phone was user changeable.
Everyone highly doubted Phonebloks would ever be able to put the idea into action, and now, they don’t need to. Motorola has just announced Project Ara, where they will be working with Phonebloks, to make the first completely customizable modular phone.
If it wasn’t published on Motorola’s official blog, we don’t know if we’d believe it. Motorola describes the project as, a “free, open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones.”
We want to do for hardware what the Android platform has done for software: create a vibrant third-party developer ecosystem, lower the barriers to entry, increase the pace of innovation, and substantially compress development timelines.MotorolaProject Ara announcement post
Project Ara will work like this: there will be a base endoskeleton that will function as a blank slate for connecting modules. Modules are essentially all the components of the phone, from the display, to the camera, and everything in between. It’s hard to imagine, but you would be able to easily remove the camera module from your phone, buy a new one, and presto — you just upgraded your phone for a fraction of the cost of a new one.
Want a keyboard? Buy a keyboard module. Want an extended battery? Buy an extended battery module. The possibilities are endless, because Motorola isn’t going to hog all the fun for themselves. Motorola plans to release a development kit to allow third-party manufacturers and developers to build their own modules. They plan on sending out alpha dev kits as soon as this winter. Yes, seriously.
For lots of us, Project Ara sounds like a dream come true. Only Motorola, backed by Google, would have not only the financial and mental resources to try something like this, but the gumption to make it work. We will definitely be following Project Ara very closely. For now, we want to know what you think. Pretty awesome, right?