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Motorola Close to Completing 'Project Ara' Prototype

By - Source: via The Next Web | B 16 comments

The days of upgrading your smartphone's hardware at home grow ever closer.

Motorola's Project Ara continues to progress at a steady pace. This week brings reports that the prototype phone is almost ready. Speaking during a Google Hangout, Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside confirmed that an Ara prototype is 'pretty close' to completion. Though we're still a long way from seeing the modular smartphone in stores, Woodside said the phone may eventually be available through Moto Maker.

For the moment, MotoMaker is only used for customizing Moto X devices (customers can choose colours for the front and back of the device as well as accents, storage, and wallpaper. You can also pre-configure your Google account. If Project Ara was available through MotoMaker, the options for customizations would no doubt be far more abundance. Ara allows you to select different components for your phone based on your preferences. For example, folks that want their phone to last all day can choose a larger battery but a smaller camera module. 

Project Ara was announced back in October and hopes to increase the life of smartphones via upgradable and swappable modules. These modules would cover everything from the keyboard to the display and the battery, to more unique models like the pulse oximeter. The company partnered with Phonebloks creator Dave Hakkens. Hakkens first talked about his concept for a modular, open source phone in mid-September.

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  • 5 Hide
    JD88 , December 9, 2013 5:46 AM
    Sounds promising and would definitely fit with Motorola's recent design philosophies. Looking forward to seeing more on this.
  • 3 Hide
    sanctoon , December 9, 2013 5:55 AM
    I love the whole Phonebloks idea, do yourselves a favor and watch a few Youtube videos about it (if you haven't allready). I'm glad Phonebloks got partnered with Moto, now it actually stands a change of becoming a reality.
  • 1 Hide
    spentshells , December 9, 2013 6:26 AM
    Cell phone mania reminds me of pokeman or pogs.
  • Display all 16 comments.
  • 2 Hide
    biohazrdfear , December 9, 2013 6:27 AM
    This has failed before. And will fail again. Good luck, Motorola.
  • 1 Hide
    the1kingbob , December 9, 2013 6:53 AM
    Just out of curiosity, who has it failed for in the past? I think it is a fantastic idea, in reality I am pretty sure they are designing a beast of a phone and then parting it down with weaker components.
  • -4 Hide
    biohazrdfear , December 9, 2013 10:25 AM
    There have been a few brands, but I don't really feel researching at the moment. The biggest thing is the cost of the individual parts. The phone designs are blocky and undesirable, and in a nutshell...no one will buy them.
  • 0 Hide
    doron , December 9, 2013 10:27 AM
    Quote:
    This has failed before. And will fail again. Good luck, Motorola.


    "People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
    --George Bernard Shaw
  • 0 Hide
    JD88 , December 9, 2013 10:33 AM
    Quote:
    There have been a few brands, but I don't really feel researching at the moment. The biggest thing is the cost of the individual parts. The phone designs are blocky and undesirable, and in a nutshell...no one will buy them.


    To Translate: You don't feel like researching because you know there's nothing out there that's been done before that even comes close to something like this.

    I really like it when people crap all over a company trying to do something unique and innovative. Your closed minded statements sound kinda like Steve Ballmer did when he was talking about the first iPhone. The first cell phones were "blocky and undesirable" yet they have revolutionized our society. We need to recognize something as just a prototype. If we know anything about Motorola and Google it's that they know how to design a product. Just give them a chance.
  • -1 Hide
    biohazrdfear , December 9, 2013 10:40 AM
    Modu, Modula, Brix, etc.
  • -2 Hide
    JD88 , December 9, 2013 10:56 AM
    Quote:
    And it has been done before. You're just oblivious to what's been done in the past...because they FAAAAILED.


    Nice try, but none of those are even remotely close to the concept mentioned here and none of them had the backing of a major corporation behind them. That Brix concept was certainly interesting though. Reminds me of the Padphone from Asus in some ways.
  • -1 Hide
    biohazrdfear , December 9, 2013 11:36 AM
    Alright, JD, you're right in every way shape and form. Its a phone that can be taken apart and rebuilt piece by piece...the same thing with the previous phones I mentioned. But no matter, you win this argument by default since you keep objecting. Thanks, buddy. I'll still keep hold of my phones, rather than these broken "build your own" phones that never took off.
  • 1 Hide
    teh_chem , December 9, 2013 11:56 AM
    The practical obstacles to something like this reaching the mainstream consumers are so numerous. Yeah, yeah, "if you don't want to innovate, then don't get in the way of people that do," blah, blah blah. That's not the issue. Just one factor, let's look at operating systems, like Android. Even though android has a significant number of different hardware devices to consider in terms of compatibility, does anyone think that Software QA testers are going to be available to test every different iteration/combination of hardware modules? No, in fact, most software QA for android can't even test on all the in-use devices, but rather a set of the more-popular ones, and that's about it.
  • 0 Hide
    JD88 , December 9, 2013 12:23 PM
    Quote:
    Alright, JD, you're right in every way shape and form. Its a phone that can be taken apart and rebuilt piece by piece...the same thing with the previous phones I mentioned. But no matter, you win this argument by default since you keep objecting. Thanks, buddy. I'll still keep hold of my phones, rather than these broken "build your own" phones that never took off.


    Did you even read about the phones you mentioned?

    None of them were about building your own phone.

    Brix was about combining multiple phones into a single screen.

    http://www.ubergizmo.com/2007/08/brix-concept-phone/

    Modu was about putting a phone inside other gadgets such as a car or laptop in order to give them access to basic phone functions.

    http://www.cnet.com.au/modu-phone-339301382.htm
  • 0 Hide
    rwinches , December 9, 2013 4:34 PM
    Modular is good for repair.
    Not good for upgrade.

    So one piece will upgrade and the others will freeze in time and not progress?
    The rare possibility of upgrading radio service like 3G to 4G yeah no.
    You would change state of the art to make things swappable?
    What would you swap out the screen?
    The inclusion of connectors in line would never work.
    The reduction in scale and the integration of discrete components into the Soc designs make this concept less likely as each day passes.
    And, we haven't even factored in the consumer swapping and installing or choosing the correct module.
    Sorry the time for this has passed for the smartphone.
  • 0 Hide
    alextheblue , December 9, 2013 6:54 PM
    I think it's a great idea! As long as you never, ever drop your phone. "Has anyone seen my phone's camera module? I thought I saw it slide under the water cooler but I can't find it!" ;) 

    It just seems odd to see something like that these days. You've got manufacturers dropping memory cards and user-serviceable batteries in the name of design... this is the complete other end of that spectrum. Don't get me wrong, I love easy-change batteries and SD card slots but... wowzers!

    Anyway, I'm sure it's been brought up before but... this reminds me of DIY laptop attempts (whitebooks). I like the concept but I can't see it really taking off. Good luck Moto!
  • 0 Hide
    wtfxxxgp , December 10, 2013 3:02 AM
    I think the concept itself is a good one. With technology we are guaranteed of one thing: progress. So it's feasible in the near future at least. If they planned their vision properly then there's no reason this shouldn't work. Whether people choose to purchase it is a completely different story. Aesthetically it ain't pretty, but then again, we are once again looking at "simple elegance" in today's phones with form being less important than function lately (finally, it IS a man's world ;) ) I have to agree on the fact that it will probably flop - but that's only based on the fact that part of the desirability of phones today is in getting the latest and greatest, even if your S3 is still a powerful phone, many people have ditched it in favor of the S4. Human habits won't change, and that will be the downfall of this very practical concept.