Introduction to Google’s Project Ara

Smartphone software has always been a goal of every company out there; who can make devices with the best software.  But what’s software if it can’t take advantage of the hardware? Hardware is always being upgraded on phones, like new lines of processors, new generation of RAM, and better displays. One of the biggest drawbacks of smartphones and mobile devices are that the hardware is incredibly difficult to replace.

You would have to be extremely dedicated to be able to modify and replace hardware on a smartphone, (Excluding the screen.) So what happens when something goes wrong? Say for example the screen is cracked? Or the camera got destroyed? You would have to pay a fortune to get it replaced, and often times the cost is not worth the repair when it costs a big chunk of the original device’s cost. If you cracked your screen on the Project Ara smartphone, it’s as easily as literally taking out the screen module,and sliding in a brand new one, with absolutely no hassle, and not to mention the price difference as opposed to traditional methods and cost when replacing screens on average smartphones.

Project Ara concept sketch

Now let me introduce you to one of Google’s experiments, Project Ara.

Project Ara is a smartphone of its own league, its own idea. It takes the idea of the average smartphone, and transforms it into a Lego-like canvas, for users to replace parts on it, sort of like choosing your own hardware, which often times, you don’t get to do when purchasing a smartphone.

Project Ara is an extremely hardware modular smartphone that is designed for the user to modify, replace, and choose the hardware on your own device, to suit your liking. You can put “blocks” on the device which are called “Modules” which essentially make up your phone. For example companies out there like Sennheiser are already developing modules for Project Ara, like the recent Sound Module, which includes High Definition audio for Audiophiles out there, with a twist; It includes 2 Audio ports instead of one, with the idea that users can share their music with others. Project Ara is a relatively new concept, but companies out there are already investing in development for modules that are compatible with this futuristic device.

The body, or frame of this device comprises of what some would call an “Endoskeleton” which the developers of Ara would sell for as little as $50 US, which includes basic low end modules like a wifi module, low end cpu module, a sound module, a screen, and other miscellaneous modules. The little known manufacturer, “Yezz” will be the ones manufacturing the device, as reported that Google apparently approached the company directly with plans to collaborate and work together. The Project Ara team announced plans to unveil their pilot scheme in Puerto Rico sometime this year. Some of the first and newest modules for the Ara will be announced and showcased at the MWC 2015 (Mobile World Congress) show in Barcelona next month.

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About Kenny Leung
Kenny currently lives in Buffalo, NY. Where he studies computer networking & programming. He has owned a number of Android phones including the Galaxy s3, Galaxy 3 mini, Galaxy s4 mini, LG optimus 3D, and the Oneplus one which he is currently using. Kenny will likely get the Oneplus two once it is released.

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