Google Video Shows Off Modular Project Ara Phone

Would you like to build your own modular phone? Google is betting that enough people will, and the tech giant has released a video offering an update on its Project Ara effort to do so.

The video was shot by Dave Hakkens, whose Phonebloks has also been involved in the quest for buildable phones. In the video, various members of the tech and design team -- engineers from Google and partnering companies -- give a brief description of their roles. There is also a look at the prototypes, including an early view of how the modular pieces are held together once they slide into the exoskeleton phone framework -- through electro-permanent magnets that do not require an electrical charge to remain magnetic.

Several different exoskeletons are shown in physical or graphical form, including one that is the size of a mini-tablet, or "phablet." One of the exos appears to hold nine modules, and another a half-dozen. Also shown is an Ara Configurator App, which allows users to configure an Ara phone.

'Grayphone' Exoskeleton

The video's release comes shortly before the first Ara Developer Conference, scheduled for April 15 and 16. The Conference will be held in Mountain View, Calif., and will be Web-streamed.

There have been reports in Time magazine and elsewhere that Google is looking to sell the exoskeleton or "grayphone" for about $50. It would contain bare-bones essentials, including possibly the physical frame, a screen, and Wi-Fi connections. Users might get one at special kiosks, where they might also acquire popular modules. There are indications that Google is intending to have modular phones on the market in about a year.

Google announced in late January that it was selling its phone maker, Motorola Mobility, to Lenovo, but it kept Motorola's Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group. ATAP is led by Regina Dugan, ex-director of...

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