Motorola's modular smartphone prototype is nearly complete

By on December 9, 2013, 8:00 AM
motorola, prototype, project ara, modular smartphone

A prototype for Project Ara, Motorola’s ambitious plan to build a modular smartphone, is nearly complete. CEO Dennis Woodside confirmed as much during a Google+ Hangout over the weekend, further adding that a final product could eventually make its way to the Moto maker according to a report from The Next Web.

Over the next year or so, Motorola will be doing research to help shape the direction of the project. To further along the effort, they are inviting interested parties to get involved by becoming Ara Scouts. Once signed up, Motorola will e-mail members about once a month with opportunities to share photos, ideas and commentary related to Project Ara.

These opportunities will arrive as a “mission” for users to complete on their Android or iPhone. We’re told that the most active participants will be offered access to an early release of the device at no extra cost – granted the early prototypes are a success.

For those not already in the know, Project Ara is a collaborative effort between Motorola, 3D Systems and Phonebloks. The ultimate goal is to create a modular smartphone that will allow users to replace different components of the phone independent of each other.

At present, if you want a better camera for your smartphone, you simply discard your old handset and buy a new one with a better camera, even if everything else on the phone works perfectly. With Project Ara, you’d simply remove the old camera module and fit a new and improved module in its place.




User Comments: 12

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t3chn0vamp said:

I am eager to see how this turns out.

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

"With Project Ara, you'd simply remove the old camera module and fit a new and improved module in its place".

I'm a little confused by this sentence. Is it new or is it improved because it can't be both.

Although commonly used, it's a stupid saying.

1 person liked this | Raswan Raswan said:

"With Project Ara, you'd simply remove the old camera module and fit a new and improved module in its place".

I'm a little confused by this sentence. Is it new or is it improved because it can't be both.

Although commonly used, it's a stupid saying.

Is it a common saying? Or are you confused by it? Because it can't be both. New=different than is currently installed. Improved=better than is currently installed. New and improved=different than and better than is currently installed.

Wow, look at that. Looks like it can be done.

MilwaukeeMike said:

"With Project Ara, you'd simply remove the old camera module and fit a new and improved module in its place".

I'm a little confused by this sentence. Is it new or is it improved because it can't be both.

Although commonly used, it's a stupid saying.

Perhaps, but surely you've heard someone say 'Things aren't made like they used to be.' Whatever they were talking is new and NOT improved.

'Improved' can be pretty subjective though, I'll give ya that.

1 person liked this | MilwaukeeMike said:

As a PC hobbyist PC builder who doesn't build very many PCs, I'm hoping this takes off. This could be a lot of fun and open up a whole new market.

1 person liked this | veLa veLa said:

I always build my own desktops so I'd be very interested in doing this.

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

Is it a common saying? Or are you confused by it? Because it can't be both. New=different than is currently installed. Improved=better than is currently installed. New and improved=different than and better than is currently installed.

Wow, look at that. Looks like it can be done.

'New improved' would make more sense but it would also be a 'near(ly) miss(ed)' for marketers.

Guest said:

That image looks really neat

like you could just swap the camera or the main cpu/gpu or whatever and it would click right into place

while keeping on the main frame of it all

I think most people will still use traditional complete phones but a considerable amount of users will find this appealing and rather stick to a modular build they will upgrade over time

after I wrote that I just realized it goes completely against the way apple operates

which is coming out with a new phone every 2 months urging you to throw out the "old" one

going modular is the last thing they would want

I hope this turns out successful and overall lowers the cost of having a smartphone

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

This definitely has some potential - I had been thinking along the same lines (with phones and tablets) for quite a while before I heard about the Phonebloks project.

I think that the pricing will be interesting. It basically allows us to "a la carte" a phone with only the functions and features we want initially. The initial chassis and first build will likely be fairly expensive compared to a similarly featured smartphone. It's later, as you are able to avoid the whole "dump your phone for a new one every year or two" syndrome that the phone will start to pay dividends. It also has the potential to open each phone up to jumping between carriers by simply changing the radio module, which the big carriers (at least in the US) will absolutely hate... They would have to actually provide good service and pricing, rather than using cheap subsidized phones to lure people in and trap them in a 2 year contract.

Guest said:

When I first heard about the Moto X being customizable I immediately thought about this, but when I found out the customization was purely aesthetic I lost interest in it. This though, this looks interesting!

Guest said:

If this works out good, I definitely want one.

Forg0t2 said:

I'm just scared people would steal just parts of my phone instead of the entire phone since it would be harder to track stolen modules or is that just me?

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