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Project Ara Developers' Conference to be held this April

by Mark Tyson on 27 February 2014, 12:00

Tags: Motorola (NYSE:MSI), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), PC

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Google has announced an upcoming developers' conference for its Project Ara, a smartphone composed of modules which can be assembled in all sorts of configurations. The conference, which will be held this April, will take place at Silicon Valley's Computer History Museum between 15th and 16th April, and will be streamed live online. An upcoming Ara Module Developers' Kit will also become available around the same time.

The modular smartphone was first disclosed back in October 2013 and is being developed under Motorola's Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group which Google held onto after the company was acquired by Lenovo. The group has plans to set prices for the phone as low as $50. The team plans achieve this attractive price tag by launching a 'grayphone', a basic customisable endoskeleton or 'endo', the chassis which holds the modules in place, which comes with the fundamentals of possibly just a screen, battery and Wi-Fi.

Of course, the $50 shell is bait for anyone who is looking for more, as it wouldn't be much of a phone. The 'grayphone' will come with an app to help users decide on other modules to purchase. Head of Ara and alumnus of DARPA, Paul Eremenko also suggested that users would be able to customise their underpowered casing at special stalls equipped with tools which can help them build their own customised device.

"The question was basically, could we do for hardware what Android and other platforms have done for software?" said Eremenko to Time Techland. "Which means lower the barrier to entry to such a degree that you could have tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of developers as opposed to just five or six big [manufacturers] that could participate in the hardware space."

The team has admitted that it has yet to achieve this possible price target; it also still has many more challenges to beat before the phone is ready for the market. However Google hopes to have a product on the market a year or so from now, as Project Ara is set to be ready for commercial launch by Q1 2015.

HEXUS Forums :: 4 Comments

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I am still sold on this idea, when I saw the first announcement of this I immediately thought it had great potential but it needed work in some areas such as the thickness and the overall size of each module and it looks like they have done just that. The device is < 10mm and I quite like the colouring of the modules shown in the photo in this article.

I can easily see things like swapping out a camera module from a 16MP one to a 12mp with a much better sensor, lens and optics without the need to replace the whole phone.

Such a great idea that I really hope it does make it to market as I will certainly be interested, would even consider dropping the nexus to try this!
Like the concept of this phone but I think I'd like a normal smooth back cover rather than the blocky look.
I think that would be pretty simple to achieve, have a snap on back cover that hides the modules which would suite everyone's needs then :).

I am interested in how they're going to solve the drivers of individual modules though, perhaps they will great some sort of driver portal so when you insert a new module it sends a request to the portal to install the latest driver for that specific module. Would also be nice if you could use the module connection as an accessories port such as a physical keyboard, slot it into one of the modules and you can then just rely on the hardware flip or slideout keyboard.

Possibilities are endless :D
Great stuff ! It feels like i've been waiting about 6 months for an update on this, am happy its still on.