What if your smartphone were customizable from the ground up? Beyond personalizing your home screen and downloading apps, what if you could handpick your phone’s hardware, too, like the perfect size screen or an extra large battery? Motorola hopes to make this possible.
In a recent blog post Google-owned Android phone maker Motorola announced Project Ara, an initiative aiming to bring an ecosystem of open hardware to the world. Like GitHub for hardware, Ara hopes to allow for highly modular smartphones by launching an open hardware platform accessible by anyone for free. Ara is led by Motorola’s Advanced Technology and Projects group.
In the blog post, Paul Eremenko of the Project Ara Team wrote that Ara aims to extend the customizable nature of Android software to Android hardware:
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 Hardware Behind Modular Phones
According to Motorola, the phone modules available in Project Ara will consist of endosekeltons (or, in Moto lingo, “endos”) and modules. Endos will serve as the structural frames for the modules while the modules can be anything, really, such as application processors, pulse oximeters or “something not yet thought of.” Motorola aims for Ara to open wide the door to possibilities in phone development and leave the limits of phone technology to our imaginations.
Modular Phones Coming This Winter
After focusing on the technical side of modular phone development for one year, the Ara team was happy to meet Dave Hakkens, the creator of the modular phone community Phonebloks. Project Ara is now teaming up with Phonebloks in an attempt to make open source modular phones a reality. In a few months Motorola says it will invite developers to start creating modules for Ara, with potential prizes along the way. This winter Motorola anticipates an alpha release of its Module Developer’s Kit.
What would you build with access to modular phone technology?