Why Google is thinking ‘Modular’?


Image: Liliputing.com

Google is soon going to launch a prototype model of its new modular smartphone in the upcoming Ara Developer conference a month later. The developers are also expected to get the Module Developer’s Kit (MDK) to start creating modules for the Ara platform. Also, by next year, it plans to launch a basic model priced at USD 50 with wi-fi connectivity only (not cellular).

With this new project, Google aims at developing a free, open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones. As told by Paul to TIME, they also aim at lowering the entry barriers to an extent that one could have tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of developers as opposed to just five or six big [manufacturers] that could participate in the hardware space

“We want to do for hardware what the Android platform has done for software: create a vibrant third-party developer ecosystem, lower the barriers to entry, increase the pace of innovation, and substantially compress development timelines.”, said Paul Eremenko, Head, Project Ara, Google ATAP.

The team currently faces the challenge of not only break up the device into modules but also doing it without adding much extra costs and weight to the device.

“The challenge was how to fit everything in an efficient way, so that people could have the ability at home to add and remove modules and have a lot of flexibility about what modules they put in, but not to have too much added weight or too much added cost by doing that.” said Project Ara’s lead mechanical engineer Ara Knaian to TIME.

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Initially, three sizes of endoskeleton (the basic structure that holds all modules) will be available viz. mini, medium, and jumbo. As reported by various publications, they will have an aluminum frame, networking circuitry, and a back-up battery. Apart from this, Google is also working on developing the Ara mobile kiosks that can fit into shipping containers and be sent all over the world.

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