Project Ara. A smartphone “designed for 6 billion people.”
Google has made an efficient and cool way to use a smartphone . Yes the best way to use anything is to make it. Google is bringing the first modular smartphone to market inside 2015, known variously as Project Ara or Google Ara. Initially the concept was taken out by a Dutch designer Dave Hakkens. In his concept , the phone consist of the main board called Base . And then the elements , so called Bloks , will be swapped on the Base board just like Lego Bricks. After getting a height of support on social media campaign including Thunderclap , Facebook , Twitter etc. Hakkens started collaborating with Google/Motorola on Project ARA. His ideas and design were extremely good and reliable.
Well after the Phonebloks. Google was not the only one designing a modular phone of its kind . But many smartphone manufacturers came up with similar designs with there own concepts . Some of them were ZTE , Xaiomi etc.
Well , Concepts came and remain concepts. But the one who implements is the leader. Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group (ATAP) , a former division of Motorola , with collaboration with many open source companies, designed the phone what we call ARA. It is named ARA on the lead mechanical designer Ara Knaian from NK Labs.
And from Google the head of project ARA is Paul Eremenko. Former Deputy Director and Acting Director of the Tactical Technology Office at DARPA and currently the Vice President of Google ATAP.
The first prototype was build by his team in NK labs includes a basic SoC with some basic mechanical skeleton which they called the Endo or Endoskeleton . Modules include some basic prototypes of the orignal modules like battery module , speaker , USB charge module ,etc. The initial prototype looked like this.
The ARA protoype was named Spiral 1 prototype. And the updated version i.e. Spiral 2 was put on display for developers in the two DevCon (Developer Conference) . The Spiral 2 prototype contains coutom chips , manufactured by Toshiba , which is covered by the improved Endoskeleton. in Spiral 1 . 65 to 70% area was covered for modularity (so, no developers functions). But in Spiral 2 , 70 to 75 % is open for developers function.
Spiral 2, In the Endo , The modules are hot swapped (just like our USB and memory cards) using a new technology in the ‘market’ known as Electropermanent Magnets .
An Electropermanent magnet is a type of magnet which consists of both an electromagnet and a dual material permanent magnet, in which the magnetic field produced by the electromagnet is used to change the magnetization of the permanent magnet.
A typical , blank and Specified Endo look like this .
The modules generally consist of three to four layers. These modules will be available of many types and concepts. With the modules part , the sky is the limit.
The modules comes in three size , which fits on the different positions given on the endo. the are
1×1 16.2 mm x 16.5 mm
1×2 16.5 mm x 39.15 mm
2×2 39.5 mm x 39.5 mm
Google collaboration with many hardware manufacturers and software developers has lead the phone to infinite possibilities.
Besides from these modules , different concepts for ARA were also released . some of the are:
Now the biggest question ever. When will ARA comes in the market? When it will be available? well , Google ha sorted this and released a video of it. The video’s emphasis is in showing off the potential of Ara’s modular nature, what components are “part of it”, and that “you” (as in the module devlopers) are also part of it. The video also hints that things will kick off in Peurto Rico as the location is named as “the first part of it” and that the Market Pilot will begin in 2015.
But why Peurto Rico? well, Google says 77% of the population use mobile phones as their primary communication tool. This means the mobile space is pretty competitive too, with AT&T taking the lion’s share of the market with 25%. Google decided to launch its market pilot using ice cream trucks . containing modules and fully assembled simple gray phones .
Now , Needless to say, the Ara is shaping up to be a real game-changer. And only just in time too, as recent major flagship launches have highlighted over 2013-2014; the hardware race is slowing down, something big needs to change. Google would also be able to simplify its mobile strategy. So guys . just wait and watch .
With Progect ARA , The sky is the limit.