Speaking during a Google Hangouts interview with popular YouTuber Marques Brownlee, Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside delved into the company’s mysterious Project Ara initiative and when we may see the first modular phone hit the market. Woodside didn’t reveal any new details outright, but he definitely gave us a lot to think about, even suggesting Project Ara may not be so far off.
“There is a [Project Ara] prototype and it is pretty close,” Motorola’s CEO said. “The idea is you have a skeleton that holds together a set of components and the components slide in and out. If we have the interfaces and the protocols that enable the speaker to speak directly to the CPU then this would all be possible.”
The biggest obstacle facing Project Ara for now, is that there’s no universal language which different components can use to speak to one another. Instead, most components are specialized to a specific device’s design. If Motorola can develop an open platform for modular components similar to Google’s open source Android OS the company will have cleared a huge hurdle on its way towards launching Project Ara.
Near the end of the interview, Woodside also dropped another hint, suggesting Project Ara could be sold through the Moto Maker site when it launches.
“Moto Maker was the beginning of a more exciting and longer term story which is how do we involve consumers and give them more choice,” Woodside said. “Ara is much further out but you can see how those two things tie together and how as we introduce new materials into Moto Maker we’re gonna pursue that theme across our product line going forward… What we’d like to eventually get to is [customizing] functionality within the device and that’s where Project Ara and Moto Maker may converge”
We still don’t know when Project Ara will hit the market, and it doesn’t sound like Motorola does either, though Woodside seems generally optimistic. In the meantime, the company clearly has plenty of other projects in its pipeline, including more Moto X customization options, new smartphones and maybe even a smartwatch. Check out the full 39-minute-long video below for more info. It’s definitely worth a watch.