piece of mind
Posted on Dec 12, 2014 by Veronika Bikova
Why this topic?
I am pretty sure that I am neither the first nor the last person blogging about the Ara Project. Since I am interested in new technology in its very general meaning, I find Motorola’s Project Ara very appealing and intriguing. In addition, I must warn the readers that I am not an engineer, but I do admire the idea behind this project. That is why I think it deserves attention and couple of words from people with different professional backgrounds.
Whenever the topic about technology pops up in a random conversation I am taking part in, there is always a moment dedicated to the Project Ara. I notice during these conversations that some people are aware and some are not, which is normal when we are talking about a product which is not even on the market yet. So consequently, I have decided to spread some lines about this particular topic. For some readers this might be information that they already know and for some it might turn out to be new.
How did it start?
First let’s start from the very beginning with some history. Yes, I know you would say history is boring. Bear with me, Project Ara’s history is not that long. It all started in 2011 when Google acquired Motorola. By that time Google had already acquired some patents that have to do with modular phone designs from Modu (Israeli mobile phone company founded in 2007). And so the work on the overview of the concept began in 2012 and the execution started on April 1st 2013. Meanwhile a Dutch designer called Hakkens introduced his Phoneblocks design concept separately in September 2013. In addition to that, I have to mention that I got the chance to see the concept from close, as I went to the Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven that same year ( http://www.dezeen.com/2013/10/19/phonebloks-mobile-phone-concept-by-dave-hakkens/ ). On 29th October Motorola announced Project Ara officially and that they are going to work in collaboration with the Phoneblocks on the project.
What is the essence?
Ara phones are planned to be there simply to serve the consumer better. Meaning, a consumer gets the modular phone circuit board where slots for the different blocks are located. There are also modules serving different purpose – for example display, speakers, battery, etc. The idea behind is that users will be able to swap modules that do not work anymore, get damaged, or to just redesign their own phone. The operating system will be Android respectively, which is logical since Google stands behind the whole project. The producers have already planned the costs that the users will be dealing with and that would be US$50 per starter kit which includes a frame, display, battery, low-end CPU, and WiFi. In case consumers want to buy more or exchange modules, such will be available for US$15. But who are they actually targeting? And here is the answer:
“In fact they are targeting the 5 billion people who don’t yet have a smart phone”
Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?
Well, nothing is perfect. A lot of people would act spoiled and would probably complain about how the phone is too thick (because we are used to bigger manufacturers coming up with thinner and thinner phones. Yeah, Apple, it is you am I talking about.), or they would say it is processing slowly, or you name it, if you will. But let’s be realistic and show some respect. The engineers and designers behind this project have set higher goals for themselves. They wanted to realize this project in just two years. The most important fact after all for me is that the way the project started was through sharing. People started sharing the very first video that came out and they saw that it could be something efficient. What I mean here is that there was the demand, meaning the audience’s voice was heard. This is unusual and very special, since we have been witnessing the biggest corporations telling us what we need, instead of us deciding that for ourselves.
To sum up, I would use just a couple of words. Project Ara indeed seems futuristic. Personally, I am very curious and I am definitely looking forward to seeing it on the market in 2015. Yet I would say to you my reader, just feel free and make your own opinion, as long as it is positive. Just kidding!
Reisinger, Don (2011-05-20). "Report: Google acquires Modu's mobile patents". CNET. Retrieved 2011-05-20.
McCracken, Harry (26 February 2014). "Project Ara: Inside Google’s Bold Gambit to Make Smartphones Modular". TIME. Archived from the original on 5 March 2014. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
Eremenko, Paul (29 October 2013). "Goodbye Sticky, Hello Ara". Motorola Mobility. Motorola Mobility. Retrieved 2013-10-29.
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