Phonebloks has uploaded a new Project Ara video highlighting the progress of the team at Google behind the world's first modular smartphone. This progress video comes less than a fortnight before the Project Ara Developers Conference, which is set to be held from 15th to 16th April.
Whilst most of Motorola was sold by Google to Lenovo for $2.9 billion earlier this year, Google kept Motorola's Advance Technology and Projects group which had been working on Project Ara.
The video tour at Google's offices shows updates to the development of the device. Several prototypes and 'endo' (chassis) sizes were shown in the video clip. Another focus seemed to be on the introduction of the magnets which lock the smartphone modules into place. These magnets are electro-permanent, where both an electromagnet and a permanent magnet is presented, and the electromagnet is able to change the magnetisation effect of the permanent one allowing the modules to be secured and unlocked with an app. It's a clever idea and means that the construction modules can be exposed yet secure, without the need of a cover or an outer case. This will definitely give this modular smartphone project a modular look.
An app similar to the Moto Maker, which will allow users to design their own customised Project Ara device before purchase was also shown in the video. Manufacturing partner 3D Systems was also involved, showcasing a selection of early designs for the casing of the modules, giving us a glimpse of customisation possibilities we may get with the device.
The 3D Systems CEO has said that the modules will be produced to ship in time for the smartphone's release early next year, according to a PC Advisor report. President and CEO Avi Reichental mentioned during a keynote at the Inside 3D Printing conference in NY that the company will be able to print custom designs on the surfaces of Ara's modules to give buyers even more customisation options.