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Project Ara is a Modular Smartphone from Motorola

By - Source: Motorola | B 14 comments

Motorola wants to build a phone that you can upgrade and update yourself with detachable hardware modules.

Motorola has announced a new modular smartphone project that will allow users to update their phone by swapping in and out different modules that attach to an endoskeleton. These modules would cover everything from the keyboard to the display and the battery, to more unique modules like a pulse oximeter. Project Ara aims to bring the benefits of an open hardware ecosystem to all smartphone users with a phone that is built to last.

 

"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."

To achieve this, Motorola worked with Phonebloks creator Dave Hakkens. Hakkens first talked about his concept for a modular, open source phone in mid-September. Since then, he and Motorola have talked and decided to collaborate (Motorola has apparently been working on Ara for a year) to a certain extent. Phonebloks and Motorola will still operate independently, but Motorola will take advice and input from the Phonebloks community while it works to develop Ara further.

Motorola hasn't mentioned a release time frame just yet. The closest it comes is mentioning that it will invite developers to start creating modules in a few months. An alpha release of the Module Developer's Kit (MDK) is expected this coming winter. 

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  • 7 Hide
    southernshark , October 29, 2013 3:00 PM
    OK that would be awesome. And they said the PC was dead...
  • 3 Hide
    eroshima , October 29, 2013 3:07 PM
    this looks very promising! altough many manufacturers will likely not cooperate first hand. This could really bring cost down (in the long run) when buying a new phone, increasing ram or local storage, swapping out the gpu for a faster one, or radio modules (wifi, bluetooth, etc), and camera module. Keyboard and screen can be swapped out (on most devices) and battery too. one of the biggest concerns (issue) will be a standarize form factor for deployment.
  • 0 Hide
    g-unit1111 , October 29, 2013 3:11 PM
    Man that would be awesome when Corsair, Mushkin, and EVGA start making 3rd party cell phone components. Please let it happen!
  • 1 Hide
    jhansonxi , October 29, 2013 3:40 PM
    I want an A/D input for use as an oscilloscope.
  • 4 Hide
    teh_chem , October 29, 2013 3:40 PM
    This is not going to go mainstream.

    For items/instruments that don't need to take into account space-efficiency; great. You can have big bulky modules for each individual component. For phones where space is key, this would only yield larger and poorly-integrated devices.
  • 0 Hide
    billgatez , October 29, 2013 3:44 PM
    I am interested in what kind of interface they will use.
  • 3 Hide
    renz496 , October 29, 2013 3:45 PM
    Quote:
    this looks very promising! altough many manufacturers will likely not cooperate first hand. This could really bring cost down (in the long run) when buying a new phone, increasing ram or local storage, swapping out the gpu for a faster one, or radio modules (wifi, bluetooth, etc), and camera module. Keyboard and screen can be swapped out (on most devices) and battery too. one of the biggest concerns (issue) will be a standarize form factor for deployment.


    Except you cant sweep for faster gpu since in mobile device like this both cpu and gpu comes under one package. :p 
  • 4 Hide
    clonazepam , October 29, 2013 3:50 PM
    I wouldn't go near it with a 10 foot pole if I had to provide any kind of warranty support.
  • 0 Hide
    dgingeri , October 29, 2013 4:32 PM
    I thought it would be better to just have all the parts loose in various pockets: a low power wifi or BT like "hub" that bridged the components to the internet with modules that would connect to it for storage, a watch for a display, a small keypad for making calls, an earpiece for listening to music and talking on phone calls, a small badge to just tap to answer incoming phone calls, a separate camera module if needed, a separate screen for the other uses, etc.
  • -1 Hide
    TwoBridges , October 29, 2013 5:14 PM
    Most of consumer electronics should be built with recyclable materials and have modular components. This is the wave of the future. The amount of wasted tech and thrown away tech around the world is unsustainable. Companies love planned obsolescence but the consumer hates it! TIME TO CHANGE THE WORLD FOLKS! DOWN WITH THE BANKS AND THE CORPS!
  • -2 Hide
    TwoBridges , October 29, 2013 5:15 PM
    Most of consumer electronics should be built with recyclable materials and have modular components. This is the wave of the future. The amount of wasted tech and thrown away tech around the world is unsustainable. Companies love planned obsolescence but the consumer hates it! TIME TO CHANGE THE WORLD FOLKS! DOWN WITH THE BANKS AND THE CORPS!
  • 0 Hide
    izmanq , October 29, 2013 8:16 PM
    they should make this modular thing for notebook
  • 0 Hide
    Bloob , October 29, 2013 9:16 PM
    I like how they are starting to innovate again.
  • 1 Hide
    hannibal , October 30, 2013 11:12 AM
    This could be really nice!

    "I would like to have 720p screen, very highend music module, extra battery module and very basic two core prosessor thank you. And for my kid, one with good gaming GPU and extra durable cower!"

    Custom phones, for differen kind of users. Not bad, but it all depends on the price. There allready are in the market modular AV aplifiers where you can upgrade parts, when new codec or some other new thing appears in the market. So you don't to buy whole thing. But those are not exactly cheap.