What is Project Ara?
Google has a potential mobile technology game changer with its Project Ara. Project Ara is an endeavor to create a modular smartphone that is developed on an open hardware platform. The concept is simple, let people build their own phones. Empower the consumer by enabling them to select not only their initial mobile phone components, but also when they upgrade and what components they upgrade. If you haven’t seen the Ara smartphone, check out this video, Project Ara: Part of it.
The foundation of the Ara smartphone is the endoskeleton or “endo” and functions as the frame that contains the customizable components. The endo, which consists of eight component slots, is also customizable and will be available in three sizes, so someone could buy more than one endo and rotate modules between them, effectively having multiple phones. The modules or “shells” are held in place on the endo with electro-permanent magnets.
Why I Think it’s Cool
A modular smartphone would provide greater flexibility in selecting hardware features (something that users are accustomed to when it comes to software) and tackles many of the common issues that users encounter during the life of their phone.
You Decide Whether to Upgrade
Hardware always has difficulty keeping up with the software and eventually cannot support newer applications. This results in a decrease in performance, which in turn drives the need to upgrade an entire phone. But if you’re dealing with components of a phone, how much of a necessity is it to upgrade particular components? If you can make do without a front facing camera or new speaker or microphone why upgrade an entire phone for those features.
You Decide What to Upgrade
With an Ara phone, the consumer would not be forced to upgrade an entire phone every two or three years because of such things as the performance of the processor or storage capacity limitations. The fact that version 2.0 of a phone has one or more better features than version 1.0 becomes irrelevant. If you want the updated component, then upgrade. If not, then continue to work with what you’ve got. This model also provides the ability to decide between standard and premium components. Perhaps one consumer decides to go with the base module camera, while another chooses a pricier Nikon or Canon module.
You Decide When to Upgrade
A modular phone provides the option of upgrading on your own schedule instead of having this being pretty much mandatory every 2 to 3 years. No more being committed to a new two year plan with a carrier because you upgraded your new phone for free.
No Longer Living In Fear of the Cracked Screen
How many of us fear breaking the phone’s touchscreen? No problem, replace it. And by it, I mean the touchscreen. Just the touchscreen. Slide it out, put the new one in and be back to business as usual. No need to replace the entire phone.
Mobile Distribution of Mobile Devices
I also like the idea of using vehicles as means of distributing the smartphones during the pilot implementation in Puerto Rico. Why wait for consumers to come to a traditional brick and mortar or even a temporary kiosk location. Go to where the consumer is. Once again, an emphasis on convenience.
Now that you’ve seen the quick introduction video and read what I think, check out this video from The Verge for a more detailed look.