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Motorola’s ‘Project Ara’ May Make Truly Customizable Phones Reality

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Motorola is putting together a new concept called “Project Ara” that could make a DIY smartphone a reality. Last month a YouTube video called “Phonebloks” went viral, as it put forward the idea of a phone that was made in interchangeable pieces (“bloks”) that could be swapped out when needed, instead of buying a whole new phone. Now Motorola is getting behind the idea.

As reported by engadget.com:

“In what Motorola calls Project Ara, the advanced technology and products group is working with Phonebloks creator Dave Hakkens on an ‘endoskeleton (endo) and modules.’ Announced this evening on the company blog by Paul Eremenko, the company says it’s already ‘done deep technical work’ and is opening the process up to the community and volunteers (aka Ara scouts, sign up here) to begin designing hardware modules. Its stated goal is to do for hardware what it says Android 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.”

The idea behind “Phonebloks” and now “Project Ara” is that users will able to switch out different parts of the phone whenever a new part becomes available, rather than buying a entire new phone. This will give customers the ability to have much longer-lasting devices, and not have “feature envy” when a new small feature comes to market.

Motorola has already had some success with their new Moto X in creating something that’s customizable. However the Moto X customizable nature only relates to aesthetics, “Project Ara” would be a much larger undertaking as it would be all phone parts including the display and processor. It’s an idea that’s so big, many people are already thinking of all the reasons it can’t work. But Motorola is now a Google-owned company, and this exactly the type of big, complex goal Google likes to tackle.

There’s no official date on when “Project Ara” will release its first phones to the public, but it hopes to start releasing parts to developers during the winter to get started.

Check out the original “Phonebloks” video below.

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