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Project ARA: All you need to know about Google’s $50 Smartphone

When Lenovo acquired Motorola, Google retained some important patents and divisions of the company.

Projetc ARA - Functional Prototype

 

One of the key divisions of the company was Motorola ATAP (Advanced Technology And Projects).  This division consists of developer teams working on advanced gadgets, such as the Project Tango and Project ARA.

So what exactly is Project ARA?

Google wants to bring internet access to people who can’t afford premium smartPhones, so they want users to make their own. So basically, it is DIY kind of phone where you can assemble various components and make your own phone.

A prototype of the Project ARA smartphone was recently demoed at LAUNCH Festival 2014 by Paul Eremenko, Head of Project ARA, Google ATAP.

Watch the video below to learn more about it. It is absolutely mind blowing.

 

Tip: You can fast forward to 5:30 in the above video to watch the Project ARA being taken apart.

Here are the key highlights of Project ARA:

This is what the front portion of the Project ARA phone looks like. It is a non functional modular prototype.

Project ARA Prototype Demo

Paul, slides the display out of the phone’s frame called (the Endo or Endoskeleton) and then flips the device over, and we see various components on the rear. He slides them all out taking them apart like a jigsaw puzzle.

Project ARA Prototype Rear Modules

The frame also contains a battery, which acts as a backup, thus making the device’s primary battery hot-swappable.

All modules are user-serviceable, i.e replaceable by the user. And some of the modules were made by a 3D printer. Google has teamed up with 3D Systems, to manufacture the 3D Printed modules, but it is open to anyone who wishes to make new ones.

Here is the best part, the modules are not glued or fixed. They are held in place, by weak magnets built into the Endo, which prevents the modules from falling out. So, you can customize it anyway you want. As explained in the video below, you can have various modules, and use them only when they are required. For e.g.: Speakers, Cameras, etc.

This brings us to a whole new level of customization, behold the birth of custom mobile hardware! So you can actually put together a device, with features you can handpick, for as low as $50. The phone’s endo will cost about $10-15, and will come in three sizes, a mini, a normal one and a phablet sized one. The phone will also have modular support for medical diagnostics and sensors.

Google will be live streaming the Google ARA Developer’s conference, on April 15th and 16th, for which you can register at the official Project ARA website.

The phone will be named the Google ARA when it comes out, and may be officially unveiled by the end of this year.

Google says that the MDK (Module Developers Kit) will be published in a month or so, for Free. So we can expect some manufacturers to jump in on this to create some fabulous hardware.

Here is another video which shows us the Story behind Project ARA

I, personally am really excited, to see such ground-breaking technology, and cannot wait to build my own ARA phone with custom specifications.

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