Motorola’s ‘Project Ara’ modular smartphone setup switches out hardware like apps

Motorola's 'Project Ara' modular smartphone setup switches out hardware like apps

We were intrigued by the Phonebloks concept phone that teased the ability to switch out a handset’s components the way most users change ringtones, and now Motorola is putting its resources behind it. In what Motorola calls Project Ara, the advanced Technology and Products group is working with Phonebloks creator Dave Hakkens on an “endoskeleton (endo) and modules.” Announced this evening on the company blog by Paul Eremenko, the company says it’s already “done deep technical work” and is opening the process up to the community and volunteers (aka Ara Scouts, sign up here) to begin designing hardware modules. Its stated goal is to do for hardware what it says Android 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.”

Suggestions for modules include the phone’s CPU, display, extra battery, external sensors or anything else one can think of. The timeline currently points to a Module Developer’s Kit (MDK) release this winter, while those volunteers can expect an exclusive discount when the product launches and the 100 most active are getting free phones. Hakkens has described his design as a “phone worth keeping” — with the ability to upgrade piece by piece and (hopefully) never experience obsolescence again we’d call this idea a phone definitely worth building.




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