Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) presented Friday new updates about Project Ara, a concept smartphone composed by changeable modules. Developer units of the device will be available by fall. The new Ara frame contains six slots for a CPU, GPU, antennas, sensors, battery and display.
Each module is attached to the frame with latches and connectors, using Android’s Greybus. “Slide any Ara module into any slot and it just works”, said Google. The software is able to provide instant connections, while offering transfer rates of up to 11.9 Gbps.
Users can request the Ara application to release a module and it will be ejected, said Google at the I/O conference in Mountain View, according to Droid Life. The frame also supports voice commands. For instance, an user can say “OK, Google, eject camera module.”
“Ara is built with durable latches to keep modules secured. It contains the CPU, GPU, antennas, sensors, battery and display, freeing up more room for hardware in each module. We are looking to module makers to create technology never before seen on smartphones.” said Google.
Project Ara is an ambitious project that would bring economic and ecological benefits in the long term
The tech giant lead by CEO Sundar Pichai showed several different colorful modules, with different textures. Modular phones aim to provide functionality while offering personalization for users who want to create a distinctive device.
The first prototype of Ara was unveiled by Google in October 2014. The company said it wanted to build a smartphone which people could update and modify. Users would add a wide-angle camera module or a macro lens, depending on their needs.
"It’s been years since the smartphone industry has seen anything like true experimentation and newness." https://t.co/aT5kaPlMwd
— Project Ara (@ProjectAra) May 20, 2016
Other parts such as the battery or CPU are also exchangeable. For example, a LED screen can be substituted by an E Ink display. Modular tech devices would last much longer, which would bring economic benefits in the long term. They could also have a less harmful impact over the environment.
According to Greenpeace “manufacturing an ordinary mobile phone is estimated to cause 16 kg of CO2 equivalent emissions”. Modular smartphones offer the advantage of replacing specific parts. Users would not need to change the entire phone, if they just want to update the camera or the RAM memory.
Google said it will release first consumer units of Project Ara by next year. The company has published an online form for developers who are interested in creating modules for the smartphone. Ara is a concept created by the Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group (ATAP)
“We’re hard at work on an open marketplace to connect the next generation of ideas with the broader Ara community. Google is looking for beloved brands and forward-thinking developers to join us.” said Google at the Ara’s official website.
Here is the Ara’s presentation at the I/O conference in Mountain View:
LG G5: First modular phone attempt in the consumer market
Late February LG Electronics presented the G5 smartphone, which features a “Modular Type design”. The new flagship device of the South Korean company is encased in aluminum, although it has a “Slide-out- Battery”.
It has a slot that supports exchangeable modules, said LG in a press release. The CAM Plus provides buttons for power, shutter, record, zoom, LED indicator and additional battery capacity for long shooting sessions.
Source: Droid Life