Motorola’s modular smartphone, Project Ara, is Phonebloks in all but name

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Remember Phonebloks, the modular Lego-like phone you could physically upgrade yourself? Motorola’s at it now with Project Ara, an “open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones”. It’s all concept for now, but Motorola seems keen to get this phone into the wild. Imagine sticking your phone together like a Lego piece. A new screen there, dual speakers over here, it’s a wild and crazy version of the future I tell you.

A great concept, hopefully to soon be a reality thanks to Project Ara

Motorola is taking an almost holistic approach to Project Ara. Over the past year, Motorola traveled the US as part of its MAKEwithMOTO program and discovered that the developers who played with its rooted phones and 3D printers mostly gravitated not towards open-source software, but to modular, open-source hardware. “These included new devices and applications that we could never have imagined from inside our own labs.” And Motorola, faced with the daunting task of bringing an open hardware ecosystem to 6-billion people, was inspired to create Project Ara.

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Its Advanced Technology and Projects group will develop the open hardware ecosystem to make it easier to produce and market the pieces for Project Ara. And Motorola knows that it’s not the first to come up with this game-changing idea. It spoke to Phonebloks’ Dave Hakkens who apparently shared Motorola’s “common vision” to create a phone that is “modular, open, customizable, and made for the entire world.” Hakkens created the vibrant community behind modular phones and Motorola has the technical chops and most importantly, the money to make this a reality.

Motorola will then be trawling the Phonebloks communities for ideas, concepts and inspirations for Project Ara. Most importantly, and in a few months time, Motorola will release the Alpha Module Developer’s Kit (MDK) to further inspire developers to bring the dream of open-source hardware to the world. Watch this space, phones finally got exciting again.



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