So, does anyone remember that project from Dave Hakkens a few months ago that was called PhoneBloks
? Does anyone remember how most of the mobile industry denounced this designer as inexperienced with electronics and incapable of understanding the complexities of building a modular phone? Well, now they're going to have to talk down to Google and Motorola as well, because Motorola has just announced their Project Ara
attempt to do the very same thing.
The concept behind this is very similar to what the guys over at PhoneBloks are doing, and in fact, Motorola has already said that they're talking to the guys at PhoneBloks because they are clearly like-minded. While Motorola hasn't given much by ways of details, it is quite clear that we won't see any fruits of this project for at least another year, if not more. As you can tell from some of the photos we've included in this article, from Motorola's site, that the company has already developed some prototype designs and is looking for partners to help them develop the modules.
In order for Motorola to be successful in this project, they have decided to enlist the help of interested users and developers. They want to know how people use their devices and how they would plan to use an upgradeable phone like the Ara. Motorola is doing this by enlisting the help of a few thousand users through an Android and iOS application that allows users to talk about what inspires them, excites them, and concerns them about mobile phones. Motorola states that they believe a phone designed for 6 billion people should be inspired by at least a few thousand.
Motorola is inviting people across the globe to become Ara Scouts
. Over the next 6 - 12 months, they'll be doing research to shape the direction of Project Ara. You can help by collaborating with us on special missions.
The funny thing about all of this is that Motorola has been working on this project for over a year, probably a year before PhoneBloks even was announced. They already have claimed to have done all of the deep technical work and Dave from PhoneBloks has already created the community with his project. And considering that both Motorola and PhoneBloks want to achieve the same goal of an Open Hardware smartphone, it seems pretty reasonable that they would work together and get involved.
In the coming months, Motorola will be sending out invitations to developers to start creating modules for the Ara platform and might even incentivize the best people to participate by having prizes for the best modules. They expect to have an alpha release of the Module Developer’s Kit (MDK) sometime this winter. While we aren't sure what that would entail, we really hope that it will ultimately result in an actual operational device that you can try to make different modules for and test for compatibility and functionality. It will be really exciting to see what Motorola does with this in the coming months with their scouts and contests.
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