Motorola "Project Ara" modular smartphone prototype nears completion

Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside has confirmed that a Project Ara prototype is nearing completion. Project Ara is a collaboration between Motorola and 3D Systems to produce something similar to the "Phonebloks" project — modular smartphones whose components can be replaced like Legos. The confirmation occurred yesterday in a Google+ Hangout.

Project Ara harnesses the technical expertise of Motorola and the vibrant development community fostered by 3D Systems. The two companies have already collaborated in the form of "make-a-thons" on the MAKEwithMOTO tour, which took the creative process to engineering and design schools. Motorola has also invited feedback and inspiration from potential users of Project Ara phones via its dscout page.

The project was commenced because smartphone components tend to wear out one at a time, and because different components are upgradeable at different times. Normally when a smartphone user wants just one aspect of the phone to be better, faster, shinier, they replace the entire smartphone. This leads to material and monetary waste on the consumer level. With a Project Ara phone, modules can be replaced one at a time. Want a new Bluetooth model? Just snap it in. New battery, camera, processor? Easily done.

If the project becomes a consumer-level reality available to billions of users, the effect on the smartphone industry as a whole could be very interesting indeed to witness. For one, it could affect the rate at which manufacturers release new models. Assuming the prototype functions well enough to continue, and assuming the public launch is received well — which is still a long ways off — this could be a major win for consumers over the long haul.

[UPDATE: A previous version of this article made little to no distinction between Project Ara and the Phonebloks project. A reader helped set us straight in the comments, and the article has been adjusted accordingly.]

SOURCE: The Next Web