Project Ara: AKA Motorola took Phonebloks seriously.

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#1 Edited by Mozuckint (773 posts) -

Meet Ara.

Led by Motorola’s Advanced Technology and Projects group, Project Ara is developing 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.

Our goal is to drive a more thoughtful, expressive, and open relationship between users, developers, and their phones. To give you the power to decide what your phone does, how it looks, where and what it’s made of, how much it costs, and how long you’ll keep it.

The design for Project Ara consists of what we call an endoskeleton (endo) and modules. The endo is the structural frame that holds all the modules in place. A module can be anything, from a new application processor to a new display or keyboard, an extra battery, a pulse oximeter--or something not yet thought of!

We’ve been working on Project Ara for over a year. Recently, we met Dave Hakkens, the creator of

Phonebloks

. Turns out we share a common vision: to develop a phone platform that is modular, open, customizable, and made for the entire world. We’ve done deep technical work. Dave created a community. The power of open requires both. So we will be working on Project Ara in the open, engaging with the

Phonebloks community

throughout our development process, as well as asking questions to our

Project Ara research scouts

(volunteers interested in helping us learn about how people make choices). In a few months, we will also send an invitation to developers to start creating modules for the Ara platform (to spice it up a bit, there might be prizes!). We anticipate an alpha release of the Module Developer’s Kit (MDK) sometime this winter.

So stay tuned. There will be a lot more coming from us in the next few months.

--Paul Eremenko, and the Motorola Advanced Technology and Projects group, Project Ara Team

No complaints from me if they can get something working out of this, that's for sure! o.o

Edit: Mind you there IS a difference between ARA and Phonebloks from engineering standpoints. They are similar but not the same.

#2 Edited by Zlurodirom (723 posts) -

I thought phonebloks was an interesting idea when I saw the video a couple months ago. From what I've read there are a few major problems that are brought up:

1) Hardware integration and integration with the OS

2) Battery life

3) Bulkiness/sleekness of the phone

4) 99% of people don't want to fiddle with their phones

The first point doesn't seem too bad, is working on phone hardware and optimization THAT much different than purchasing and building your own computer? The 3rd point is kind of relative and depends on what the consumer wants. The 2nd point seems like the biggest problem, how do we know what the battery draw is going to be when you make a phone? Can you return items after they've been used because your phone cant run a full day? Building your own computers isn't quite the same as this as they have a PSU and that can always be upgraded due to dedicated power. This on the other hand may need more fine tuning.

For the 4th point, I think it's a lazy argument. If someone wants a good product they will go out and do their research to find the best options, instead of throwing money at something they know little about (at least from my anecdotal experience and interactions with people). I think if someone had the option of keeping their current phone but upgrading certain aspects it would be great for longevity (ideally). Also this may challenge carrier contracts, if a phone lasts more than 2 years, they won't have need for the expensive contracts to subsidize the phones they purchase?

I think this is a great idea if they can implement it, but I don't see it being that realistic for at least another 5 years or so. Of course I'm clearly naive to the current pace of technology so I could be well off it Motorola thinks it's a feasible idea and are announcing it after a year of work and research.

#3 Posted by sorata (31 posts) -

... hmm. Good luck Motorola. aren't they losing in sales?

#4 Posted by chaplainDMK (6641 posts) -

@sorata said:

... hmm. Good luck Motorola. aren't they losing in sales?

They are pretty much Google's proprietary phone maker now. This could be interesting, would drive Google's Android platform to a new level for the highest end market. The Nexus line of completely customizable devices running Android.

#5 Posted by adamosmaki (9335 posts) -

i do hope they do something commercial with that. Though i dont see carriers been excited by this but screw them