The dream of the modular smartphone has taken a step closer to reality with Motorola’s announcement of a new initiative called Project Ara. Motorola has been working on Project Ara for a year, aiming to become a free, open hardware platform to create “highly modular” smartphones.
The idea behind Project Ara is to “create a vibrant third-party developer ecosystem, lower the barriers to entry, increase the pace of innovation, and substantially compress development timelines“. Essentially you would be able to swap certain parts of the phone, like the camera module, chipset or battery.
It’s a powerful idea that could revolutionise the mobile landscape, by making expensive upgrades a thing of the past. People could upgrade parts of their phone as they see fit. As well as the cost benefits, a phone’s useful life would be extended well beyond the two years of most current phone contracts.
The design is based on a structural frame called the endoskeleton that allows you to place and swap various modules. This could, in theory, include Sony parts for the camera or dedicated audio chips.
Whilst it is likely to be a long time before any of this is commercially available, it could indicate where the smartphone industry may be headed. It is all also difficult to ignore with the might of Google behind it. It could do for the open mobile hardware ecosystem what it already has done on the open software side with Android.
Is this a future you would like to see? Does the idea of swapping components on your mobile excite you? Where do think this would leave Sony as a mobile manufacturer? We’d love to hear your thoughts below.
Via Motorola Blog.