Motorola intros 'Project Ara,' a new effort to allow consumers to customize their smartphone hardwareAlex Wagner - Deputy Managing Editor, News Desk
One of the major features of Motorola's Moto X is its customizability that's enabled by the Moto Maker tool, giving consumers the opportunity to design the look of their Moto X to fit their style. Now it looks like Motorola wants to extend that customizability to smartphone hardware with a new effort called Project Ara.
Announced over on The Official Motorola Blog, Project Ara is described as an effort to develop a "free, open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones." The company goes on to explain that it wants to give consumers the ability to decide exactly what their phone can do, what it looks like and what it costs.
As the project stands now, Ara hardware is made up of and endoskeleton (aka "endo") and separate modules. The endo is the main frame that holds all of the modules in place. Meanwhile, the modules are the various parts of the phone itself, such as its processor, screen, keyboard or whatever else the user desires.
Motorola says that it's been cooking up Project Ara for about a year so far. Now that it's made the program official, it'll continue work on Ara out in the open in conjunction with the Phonebloks community, which made news earlier this year as a project that aims to create customizable phones with "bloks" that can be replaced and upgraded. Motorola expects to begin inviting developers to create modules for Ara sometime in the coming months, with plans to launch an alpha version of the Module Developer Kit (MDK) in the winter.
So far it looks like Project Ara is still in the early stages of life, but the effort looks like a promising one. Rather than forcing consumers to settle for hardware that they may not be totally happy with or making them shell out for a totally new smartphone if one part of their existing device breaks, Project Ara could allow them to get exactly the type of phone that they need and upgrade it in the future if need be. If you're interested in learning more about Project Ara and becoming a research scout to help Motorola "learn about how people make choices, you can sign up to be an Ara Scout right here.