Project Ara's modular smartphone comes to life in April
By Nicole Kobie
Posted on 27 Feb 2014 at 10:30
Google has kicked off a series of developer conferences for its modular smartphone, Project Ara - with the first in April featuring the release of its module developers' kit (MDK).
Project Ara will enable users to not only have a say over how the phone looks, but also how it functions by picking and choosing which "modules" make up the phone - say, a faster processor or better camera, or speakers that best suit your favourite type of music.
Google's ATAP is also working with 3D printing firm 3D Systems, suggesting the modules - including functioning circuitry - could one day be printable.
"The smartphone is one of the most empowering and intimate objects in our lives," project lead, Paul Eremenko, said on Google+. "Yet most of us have little say in how the device is made, what it does, and how it looks."
To kickstart the project, Google is holding three developers' conferences. The first will take place on 15-16 April at the Computer History Museum in Google's hometown of Mountain View, California.
Only a limited number of people will be allowed to attend, but it will be streamed online, Google said.
That first conference will feature the alpha release of the module developers' kit.
"The MDK, which we expect to release online in early April, is a free and open platform specification and reference implementation that contains everything you need to develop an Ara module," Eremenko said. "The developers’ conference will consist of a detailed walkthrough of existing and planned features of the Ara platform, a briefing and community feedback sessions on the alpha MDK, and an announcement of a series of prize challenges for module developers."
Project Ara was originally part of Motorola's Advanced Technology and Projects team, which shifted to Google after Lenovo's acquisition of the mobile division. Google has now made it clear that it intends to see the project through.
ATAP revealed more details about how the phones will work in this short video:
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