Google Offers Sneak Peek at Project Ara, Its Build-Your-Own Smartphone

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Former Staff Writer
2 min read

Though Google sold Motorola at a massive financial loss earlier this year, we reported that the tech giant kept what it really wanted all along. In addition to tens of thousands of patents, Google also integrated Motorola’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group -- perhaps best known for a modular smartphone initiative dubbed Project Ara.

With different block components that users can affix and detach from a basic frame -- such as keyboards, cameras, batteries and speakers, for instance -- Project Ara allows radical personalization in terms of both functionality and aesthetics.

Democratization via disassembly is a theme. Google will sell a startup kit comprising a frame called an “endo” (for endoskeleton) in three total sizes as well as a few basic modules for just $50 -- though its retail model thereafter will largely hinge upon a community of developers.

Related: 4 Ways to Stop People From Using Their Phones During Meetings

Not unlike an app store, developers will be able to sell their inventions both in and out of the Google Play Store. Project Ara’s first-ever Developers Conference will be held on April 15 and 16 at the Computer History Museum in California, as well as live streamed with an interactive Q&A.

And now, in a new video, Google is introducing the team behind Project Ara while offering a glimpse into the project’s breaking developments.

Technical leads Ara Knaian (for whom the project is named) and Seth Newberg explain how they developed a way to affix various modules with electro-permanent magnets. In terms of design, Daniel Makoski shares that the phone will have no cover in an attempt to embrace its block aesthetic.

Related: Google May Open a Retail Store in NYC

The video also featured Jeff Blank of 3-D printing company 3D Systems, who discussed how an outer case for each module can be 3-D printed and therefore customized in terms of color, texture and design. Finally, Eric Gunther of interactive design studio Sosolimited will be designing an app that lets users try out different module configurations.

Check out the video in full below:

Related: Google Unveils 'Project Tango': A Smartphone That Sees in 3-D

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