Project Ara is the codename for an initiative that aims to develop an open hardware platform for creating highly modular Smartphone. The platform will include a structural frame that holds Smartphone modules of the owner’s choice, such as a display, camera an extra battery. It would allow users to swap out malfunctioning modules or upgrade individual modules as innovation emerge, providing longer lifetime cycle for the handset and potentially reducing electronic waste.
Project Ara Smartphone will begin pilot testing in Puerto Rico Later 2015 with a target bill of Materials cost of $50 for a basic grey phone. The project was originally headed by the Advanced Technology and Projects team within Motorola Mobility while it was a subsidiary of Google. Although Google had sold Motorola to Lenovo, it is retaining the project team who will work under the direction of the Android Division.
Google says the device is designed to be utilized by 6 billion people, including 1 billion current Smartphone users, 5 billion feature phone users and 1 billion futures user not currently connected. Google intends to sell a starter kit where the bill of Materials in 50 US $ and includes a frame, display, battery, low end CPU and Wi-Fi.
Google wants Projects Ara to lower the entry barrier for phone hardware manufactures so there could be hundreds of thousands of developers instead of the current handful of big manufacturers. This would be similar to how the Google Play Store is structured. Lowering the barrier for entry allow many more people to develop modules. Anyone will be able to build a module without requiring a licenses or paying a fee.
Project Ara’s components have been shown off before, but this was the 1st time Google built the phone as part of a live demonstration.Camargo did not provide much more information about the status of Ara beyond the demo, but the project is expected to begin a pilot test in Puerto Rico later year where the public will presumably be able to try it out.
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