At Google’s 2014 I/O Developers Conference, Google showed off the Project Ara prototype. Paul Eremenko, Project Ara head gave a glance about the modular smartphone project that was previously announced in February.
Project Ara is currently in early-stage development. To make things more interesting, Google has announced a contest for developers. It involves developers making smartphone modules that are different from current smartphones models in the market. Developers taking up the challenge have to make working Ara modules that current smartphones don’t do.
Google is offering prizes worth $100,000 for the working modules. Developer also get trip to Ara’s next Developer Conference. Two runner-up developers / teams get priority access to the Ara developer conference in the fall.
The modular smartphones are reportedly being powered by Toshiba. A smartphone that can be cobbled together from different pieces of hardware requires more technical knowledge than imagination.
Google is working on trying to produce a manufacturing system that allows these modules to be produced quickly and simply. Google’s new 3D printer is 50 times faster than current 3D printers. Google is planning to release an Android prototype that will add modular support.
Currently, the Spiral 1 platform frees up 30-35% of the Printed Circuit Board (PCB) for manufacturers. The new Spiral 2 platform is eventually thought to free up 70-75% on the PCB. Google is doing battery research which may lead to batteries running three times longer than current ones. This may lead to shorter life-cycles of the battery. This may prove to be a bottleneck in the future. This is also being looked into.
How this project will succeed is all dependent on the cost. With the demo at Google’s 2014 I/O Developers Conference, Project Ara is an exciting project. Google is expected to launch first commercial models of Project Ara smartphone in January 2015 with developer kits being released in the fall.
What do you think of Google’s highly ambitious Project Ara? Will Google’s highly ambitious Project Ara put a positive spin on modular design? What other features would you like to see in Google’s highly ambitious Project Ara?
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