Google Pushes Ahead with DIY Modular Phone Concept

The build-your-own-phone movement has taken another few steps forward. On Wednesday, Google announced it will host developer conferences and release a toolkit for modular phones.

Project Ara, announced by Motorola Mobility last October, is the name of an R&D effort to create a phone platform where users could swap and add hardware as well as software components, creating their own customized model. Originally started in Motorola Mobility, Google is keeping Ara and its parent organization, the Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) Group, even as the Motorola division moves to its new owner, Lenovo.

Three Google Ara Developers' Conferences are now scheduled, with the first one in mid-April. They will focus on the alpha version of the Ara Module Developers' Kit, or MDK, a free and open platform spec and reference implementation that is being targeted for release in early April.

Basic Phone for $50?

The conferences will review existing and planned features of the emerging Ara platform, as well as announce prizes for module development.

According to news reports, Google plans to release about a year from now an Ara Wi-Fi basic phone for about $50, with additional prices for add-ons. Users would have the ability, for instance, to add the kind of cellular connection they want, a better screen, a faster processor, a camera or other enhancements to fit their needs and wallet.

In November, Motorola signed an agreement with 3D printer solution provider 3D Systems to create facilities for building modular parts.

This not only raised the possibility that a manufacturer like 3D Systems could build customized parts on order and en masse, but that users with access to 3D printers might print at least some of their own modular components. For instance, a user might 3D print the enclosure and acquire the snap-in circuitry from a provider. Project Ara is already investigating the...

Comments are closed.