Project Ara hardware

Project Ara, the modular smartphone endeavor started by Motorola before being folded into Google's ATAP (Advanced Technology and Projects) group, is making progress towards its first working prototype, according to a recent write-up by MIT's Technology Review. The publication visited NK Labs, one of the main contractors working on Project Ara, for a closer look at the work-in-progress hardware aiming to make it easy to swap out and upgrade individual parts of a smartphone's hardware. And though it's still early days for Ara, the first working prototype is expected this month, just in time for the project's first developers conference.

There's also some early information on the Project Ara base unit and modular add-ons —

On workbenches sit prototypes of memory modules, battery modules, and processor modules, all designed to slide easily in and out of an aluminum smartphone “endoskeleton.” A prototype infrared imaging lens module for night photography would protrude about a half-inch from the device. Another module would let you read your blood oxygen levels with a swipe of your finger.

The article goes on to describe "electropermanent magnets" that would attach the various modules to the endoskeleton, allowing components to be connected without additional moving parts, as well as details on how Ara could target developing markets with a low entry price. It's definitely worth a read for those pondering the module future of smartphones.

Meanwhile Google will host the first Project Ara Developer Conference on April 15-16, with a reported 3,328 attendees registered to attend.

Source: MIT Technology Review; via: PhoneArena


Reader comments

First working Project Ara prototype device expected this month


And all those people on reddit and other parts of the internet said it could never be done... But here it is!

I'll admit I laughed at the idea initially and now I'm intrigued. I'm still not sure how practical it is on a large scale but the ideas behind it are amazing.

Posted via Android Central App

There's certainly a lot of room for error on this that could stop it dead in its tracks. But, if they do it right, the potential is *endless*. Imagine *finally* getting to truly buy *your* dream phone, built exactly with the specs you want.

I am *very* hopeful for Project Ara.

PhoneBloks couldn't have been done. This has enough fundamental differences to have a chance of success. I railed heavily against PhoneBloks, but this I'm very excited about.

I'm throwing money at my phone right now, but I haven't received an order confirmation email yet :(

Posted via Android Central App

Looks more like a TI calculator than a phone lol

Edit: I just realized the black rectangles are probably component connections, not the phone.
The coffee hasn't kicked in yet...

Can you give me a compelling reason to buy it? While having an upgradable phone is cool, I suspect the compromises that will need to be made to achieve this will make it an unattractive proposition, for me at least. Though I am open to persuasion.

Posted via Android Central App

You get exactly what you paid for. If you use the phone as a media device, you buy a decent CPU, a decent GPU, and a piece that let's you have a microSD card.
Essentially you're just buying what you need and not features that you'll never use. I know that I've never had to use blue tooth, NFC, or take high definition pictures as I just post on social media. However, in order to meet the requirements that I had of a long battery life and a large screen for reading the news, I had to get those features as well when I bought my LG G2. I could have saved money buy having an Ara phone that gave me what I needed and didn't have extra features I never use.
Posted via Android Central App

Not necessarily. The idea is to take all the different components that are normally in a phone and house them in different modules. The downside, here, might be that the phone looks a bit ugly (subjective, of course).

Splitting everything into fixed sized modules will almost certainly lead to wasted space, making it bigger than a conventional smartphone with similar functionality. That is the obvious one, I'm sure there will be others but we'll have to wait and see.

Posted via Android Central App

This is definitely interesting. It beats Motomaker, I'll take my choice of functionality over choice of colors any day.

Posted from the (4.2 updated) redheaded stepchild of the Nexii