Motorola and Phonebloks working to develop a modular smartphone platform (Project Ara)
Google’s Motorola X (launched in August this year) is the most customizable smartphone that can be bought at the moment. However, you still can’t change too many things about it. But fret not, Motorola is taking customization to a whole new level with the newly announced Project Ara.
The project’s goal is to develop “a free, open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones.” Reportedly, Motorola wants “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.”
The idea behind Project Ara is fairly simple: a smartphone will be built from an “endoskeleton” (basically a structural frame that hold all the pieces together) and various modules – which can be a keyboard, display, application processor, camera, battery etc.
Below you can see some early designs made by Motorola for Project Ara:
A project similar to Ara is Phonebloks by designer Dave Hakkens. Since Motorola has “done deep technical work” and “Dave created a community”, they’ve decided to join forces and work on Project Ara “in the open.”
Phonebloks already has about 1 million supporters, so it’s obvious that people like the idea of a modular handset. With Motorola (which is now a Google Company) involved in the project, things can certainly move in the right direction.
The initial Phonebloks concept is explained in this video:
According to Motorola, an alpha release of the Module Developer’s Kit (MDK) for Project Ara should be available sometime this winter. We’re looking forward to seeing what comes out if this.