Modular smartphone made real: Motorola teams up with Phonebloks, announces Project Ara

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Remember the modular smartphone idea Phonebloks which was suggested by what was seemingly a random British guy last month? Most shrugged it off as unrealistic and baseless, but today it appears that Motorola–and therefore Google–has embraced this moonshot fully. It’s a modular smartphone concept that may have seemed futuristic as little as a month ago. Introducing Project Ara, a free, open hardware platform for creating the smartphone that fits your needs. Motorola has been working on this for more than a year.

The design for Project Ara consists of what we call an endoskeleton (endo) and modules.  The endo is the structural frame that holds all the modules in place. A module can be anything, from a new application processor to a new display or keyboard, an extra battery, a pulse oximeter–or something not yet thought of!

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Interestingly, Google subsidiary Motorola isn’t just taking the Phonebloks idea and putting their own spin on it. The company is actually embracing the people behind Phonebloks and its developer community to make the modular smartphone a reality. Similar to Google’s Glass Explorer program, Motorola will soon be seeking Ara Scouts to get valuable customer insight as to where to project will eventually need to go. For more information about becoming an Ara Scout, see the official recruitment page. A free device could be in your future if you’re chosen.

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When Phonebloks first announced their idea, a Thunderclap campaign was scheduled to be occurring on yes, you guessed it, October 29th. What’s the connection here? Did Motorola orchestrate the Phonebloks idea to go viral to build a sense of “this would be cool if it could actually happen” among the interested parties? Did Motorola intentionally plan to announce its modular smartphone on the same day the Phonebloks idea was set to take over social media? How exactly are the two companies working together? There are a lot of questions here, and hopefully, soon, we’ll have some answers.

Amazingly, Motorola is said to begin inviting developers to design modules for the Ara platform as soon as within the next few months. This is actually happening, people.

[Motorola Blog]

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