Motorola's Woodside on Ara: How do we modularize the phone?

Dec 09, 2013 by Nancy Owano weblog

(Phys.org) —"Goodbye Sticky. Hello Ara." That was the blog title back in October on the Motorola Mobility site that grabbed phone watchers' attention and inspired one common question: How soon can you do this? Ara is the name of Motorola's Project that is working on a free, open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones. "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, and the Ara team.

On December 6, Motorola Mobility CEO Dennis Woodside brought the vision into further perspective in an interview streamed live with "YouTuber" and tech reviewer Marques Brownlee. Motorola's vision is fundamentally one of a smartphone user having a skeleton that holds together a set of components and those components slide in and out. ("The endo [endoskeleton] is the structural frame that holds all the modules in place. A module can be anything, from a new application processor to a new display or keyboard, an extra battery, a pulse oximeter—or something not yet thought of," according to the Ara team.)

But why? The idea behind Ara, said Woodside, is, what, for example, if you could change the camera on the phone to one with super zoom properties? Today, he said, once you buy the phone, it cannot change that much. The software can change but not the hardware. A tantalizing opportunity emerges for the future of smartphones, where one thinks not only of innovating but of enabling others to innovate Motorola's question became, "How do we modularize the phone?"

Consumers, he said, may want to do different things with their phones at different times of their lives. If going on a trip, the user may want a different camera, etc. As part of the , Motorola has opened a site to solicit participants in Project Ara, and participants are in turn given missions that are idea-driven, he said, such as, "Come up with an idea for a new sensor that we can incorporate into a Project Ara ."

"So we are going to see where it goes," he said. "Will we have a product in the next 12 months? It's hard to say, but we are pretty excited about what we are doing."

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
MKBHD Hangout with Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside

The dscout.com/ara site announced that "Motorola is inviting people across the globe to become Ara Scouts. Over the next six to 12 months, we'll be doing research to shape the direction of Project Ara. You can help by collaborating with us on special missions."

Explore further: Motorola studying modular smartphone

More information: www.dscout.com/ara
motorola-blog.blogspot.com/2013/10/goodbye-sticky-hello-ara.html

Related Stories

Motorola studying modular smartphone

Oct 30, 2013

When it comes to mobile applications, consumers can customize their phones with just a few taps. Motorola Mobility wants to make it that easy to personalize a gadget's hardware.

Will your next phone be Fair Trade?

Dec 06, 2013

Organic, cage-free or home-grown? We think about our purchasing ethics in many areas of daily life, but not often about technology.

Google coming out with two new Android phones

May 31, 2013

Google revealed Thursday that it has two new sophisticated Android smartphones in the works, one of which will have the unprecedented distinction of being made in the United States.

Motorola unveils 'affordable' Moto G smartphone

Nov 13, 2013

Google-owned Motorola Mobility on Wednesday unveiled the Moto G, aimed at the half-billion consumers around the world, many in emerging markets, who want a smartphone without a high price tag.

Recommended for you

Sony's PlayStation 4 sales top seven million

16 hours ago

Sony says it has sold seven million PlayStation 4 worldwide since its launch last year and admitted it can't make them fast enough, in a welcome change of fortune for the Japanese consumer electronics giant.

Study: Samsung phone durable, but iPhone has edge

Apr 14, 2014

Samsung's new Galaxy S5 smartphone is more durable than last year's model and other leading Android phones, but the iPhone 5s outperformed all of them in part because of its smaller size, a new study finds.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

betterexists
not rated yet Dec 09, 2013
Modularize?
I thought since it is all wireless and phone is big/thick for Men's Pockets..
they could make a Calendar like Foldable Screen for the Wrist and
other pieces of it to go into various Shirt & Cargo Pants' Pockets...Never to be taken out!

More news stories

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...

Deadly human pathogen Cryptococcus fully sequenced

Within each strand of DNA lies the blueprint for building an organism, along with the keys to its evolution and survival. These genetic instructions can give valuable insight into why pathogens like Cryptococcus ne ...