A new project called Phoneblocks surfaced in September, and the idea behind the concept was simple: let people swap out different parts of their phone so that they could create a custom, and easy to replace, smartphone.
Motorola’s new Ara project builds off of this exact same idea, and the thought is that consumers may be able to one day add more storage, add a bigger battery, add a better camera, or sacrifice on any of those parts to keep the cost of their phone down. Should a part break, you can easily swap it out with a new one. It’s very PC-like, in that you can change parts on the fly.
The project is being led by Motorola’s Advanced Technology and Projects Group, and right now the goal is to keep it open source for “highly modular smartphones” that run Android. “Our goal is to drive a more thoughtful, expressive, and open relationship between users, developers, and their phones,” Motorola said. “To give you the power to decide what your phone does, how it looks, where and what it’s made of, how much it costs, and how long you’ll keep it.”
The phones will have one primary component called the “endo,” that will hold each of the modules that you decide to add. Motorola says possible modules include new displays, another battery, a keyboard, or anything that a user can think of. Motorola is working closely with the Phoneblocks team and community to try to get this off of the ground, and it hopes to have developers on board in the coming weeks with an early Module Developers Kit (MDK) set for launch this winter.
We can’t wait to see what comes of this, it’s surely possible that this is the future of smartphones.