News by Andrew Kameka on Tuesday October 29, 2013.
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Motorola has announced that it will attempt to make modular smartphones, which can swap out parts to upgrade certain specs without having to design a new device, a viable way to manufacture smartphones.
The new Motorola Project Ara aims to make it possible for someone to build a phone with specific features that speak to an individual's needs. Ara has a basic endoskeleton that serves as the core frame for modules that house different aspects of the phone, such as the processor, display, battery, keyboard, and camera. The "endo" would be able to have all of these features operate in conjunction, but should someone feel the need to spruce up the phone, he or she could order a more powerful processor or a more dense display and slide that module into the skeleton. The ability to adjust components without purchasing a new device would save the consumer money and cut down on waste from phones that end up being discarded.
If all of this sounds familiar to Phonebloks, a concept video that gained attention and quickly fizzled out because of its perceived impracticality, it's because the two projects will work in tandem. Motorola had the same idea a year ago, according to Paul Eremenko of the Motorola Advanced Technology and Projects group, and decided to work with the Phonebloks enthusiasts after meeting creator Dave Hakkens.
Project Ara will have a Module Developer's Kit released this winter that seeks to start the process of testing out the modular smartphone process and learn what methods work best for manufacturing and consumer demand. There's no word on exactly when it will happen, but the days of complaining about spec sheets may be over in a few years. Why complain about a new device when you can just swap out a module and build the perfect phone with Project Ara?
Motorola Project Ara components
Andrew is MobileBurn.com's managing editor. He is based in Miami, Florida.