If you haven't heard, Project Ara is coming. No, I don't mean that in the vague it's being worked on sense. It's actually on its way to Puerto Rico in the form of a market pilot sometime later this year. Google announced the news at the second annual Project Ara Module Developers Conference currently underway.
The market pilot for Ara will be in Puerto Rico #AraDev
Project Ara stirred up plenty of excitement when it was first announced, and it continues to entice people with its promise of a modular and upgradeable phone. We recently learned that users will be able to hot-swap modules (excluding the CPU and screen) while the device is on thanks to a modified version of Android Lollipop.
Now Phonebloks has shared a video of Ara's porgress at NK Labs, a Massachusetts-based contractor doing a great deal of work on the project.
Project Ara seems like the sort of thing that could never in a zillion years work, but Google is committed to giving it a shot. After bringing Motorola's ATAP in-house, the company has forged ahead on Project Ara. Now project head Paul Eremenko has offered up a few new details of how Ara will work. Basically, the phone can be taken apart while it's on.
Well, this isn't great news - the guy responsible for designing Project Ara as part of Google's ATAP team (and previously, at Motorola), which Google picked up as part of the Motorola-Lenovo acquisition, is leaving! Dan Makoski is headed to another company to work on more amazing, innovative, interesting, game-changing products. Just kidding: he's going to work for a bank. Capital One, to be precise. He has this to say about it:
there are few spaces as ripe for technology and human-inspired re-imagination as how people relate to their money,
Capital One has been steadily building a quiet but extraordinary design thinking, strategy and execution culture on top of its already legendary data analytics capability,
and when you stir the above and throw in the spark of vision & leadership:
Project Ara is still going strong, and Google demonstrated it at I/O at the ATAP presentation. Project Ara Technical Lead Paul Eremenko talks up the modular phone platform in the video below (starting at around 23:30), bringing the concept beyond simple phone component upgrades. "What if a phone could see in the dark? What if a phone could test if water is clean?" The collaborative Ara team wants the hardware to be just as flexible as the larger Android ecosystem.
According to the Nikkei business wire, Toshiba announced today that the company will be providing the processing guts for Google's upcoming Project Ara modular smartphones. The release itself is pretty bare-bones - Toshiba says it will provide 3 different types of processors for the phone, and that while it will initially be the "preferred" supplier for those components, it will become their sole provider a year after Ara's initial rollout.
Google's Project Ara might be the very definition of a geek pipe dream: an idea that makes a lot of sense, but isn't quite possible with current technology, being made real with applied engineering and creativity. Even with Motorola being sold to Lenovo, the Ara modular phone project is still full speed ahead at the Googleplex under the new ATAP team. Dave Hakkens of Phonebloks, who presented a very similar concept back in September, was recently given a tour of ATAP's progress.
We're all excited by the prospects of Project Ara, Google's upcoming lick-and-stick modular phone that will essentially allow users to upgrade the device's hardware on the fly. Recently, one of the Ara team members showed off a non-functional model of the device at LAUNCH, which gives us a very good idea of how swapping components will work.
They waste no time getting right into the juicy details, so give it a watch.