Google-owned Motorola is aiming to do for hardware what Android did for software, by creating an open platform for a modular smartphone where you add and remove options and specifications to suit your own needs. It is a system as easy as adding and removing Lego blocks.
Motorola Project Ara is being lead by the company’s Advanced Technology and Projects group and will consist of an endoskeleton to which you can attach modules in order to build your own perfect smartphone. As the platform is open, this can include third-party hardware modules and you could therefore end up with a handset that performs all manner of different functions.
Say you want a BlackBerry-style Qwerty keyboard at the bottom, better camera, or bigger battery – you can just remove one module and add another. The idea is that there will be a module store, much like the Google Play app store, and you buy modules to upgrade your phone as you go.
Motorola isn’t the only company with this concept in mind. Dave Hakkens posted a YouTube video and Thunderclap support campaign about his similar innovation, Phonebloks. It has had almost one million supporters since the campaign started and his work has been recognised by Motorola, which will be working with him and the Phonebloks community to further the idea and make it a reality.
In the next few months, Motorola will also be inviting developers to start creating modules for the Ara platform. It could seriously shake-up the industry, and certainly the traditional phone upgrade cycle.