Project Ara Lives And Is Coming Soon!



Project Ara was first shown to the public over a year ago and back then it was an outlandish concept that seemed unlikely to ever make it to commercial production. The idea behind it was fantastic. It re-imagined the smartphone as something entirely different from what it was now. Everything from the RAM to the processor, screen, or camera was a ‘module’ that could be quickly swapped out and replaced as per the individual.

While this may seem like a fantastic proposition, in theory, it was bound to fail practically. After all, how many people really want to think about the processor in their phone or compatibility issues that will be sure to crop up with software when others smartphones already to a stellar job in most areas?

Then there was also the question of the huge amount of investment required into trying to recreate the smartphone market. Google could afford it, yes, but they needed to be convinced that the idea was more than a pipedream.

This change happened when a change in leadership took place after the last Google I/O bringing to the helm Rick Osterloh. The team started to iron out the kinks and more importantly to streamline the modules without compromising the spirit of Project Ara.

The modules, as it stands now, can be anything that works on top a basic standard frame provided by Google. Concepts exist for high-end photography modules, e-ink screens, pill boxes, decorative modules just to look good, fashion accessories and everything in between.

The connectors that will be used to make this modular smartphone a reality is a new proprietary one built by Google but one that supports open standards. This connector draws less than a third of the power of a USB port and can transfer 11.9 GB of information per second both ways!

All of these connectors will be generic and accept any module that is compatible adding yet another layer of flexibility to the entire system. The most exciting news is that the project has advanced enough to have working prototypes that work remarkably well.

Modules are swapped through software switches or by just saying ‘Ok Google, remove Camera module’. Once the module is removed, just insert the next one in and it will start working.

Developer Edition Coming Soon  

Google is also set to release a developer edition of the phone later this year to try and see what the community can come up with. It will be a high-end 5.3-inch phone based on Android and be followed by a commercial device as early as 2017.

That is huge news and could potentially change the entire smartphone game as we know it. LG tried something similar with its G5, but on a much smaller scale and an execution that left much to be desired.

The phone will also be the first one that Google actually builds itself and not just a Nexus-branded device that is built by one of its several partners. The smartphone market has matured and we have seen iterative designs from all manufacturers for the last few years.

Let us hope that Google and Project Ara can inject a sense of curiosity among smartphone users again.       

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