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Google Reveals Further Details Of Modular Smartphone Project Ara

Michael Moore joined TechWeek Europe in January 2014 as a trainee before graduating to Reporter later that year. He covers a wide range of topics, including but not limited to mobile devices, wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and financial technology.

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Project Ara will be unveiled at developer conference on 15 April as Google looks to bring modular computing to the masses

Google has revealed further details about its modular smartphone development Project Ara, which will be officially unveiled at a developer conference on 15-16 April.

The news was announced on the Google+ page of Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group (ATAP), the only part of Motorola Mobility that the search engine giant, aside from its patents, retained following its sale to Lenovo last month.

“We’re excited to take this next step with Project Ara, and see where the developer community takes the platform,” wrote Paul Eremenko, the head of Project Ara.

google project ara componentsSelf-build

“The smartphone is one of the most empowering and intimate objects in our lives,” Eremenko continued. “Yet most of us have little say in how the device is made, what it does, and how it looks.”

Project Ara was first announced by Motorola last October, but no information, other than a few concept photographs have been released so far. Ara offers users the chance to customise their devices whichever way they want, choosing which materials and components will be included, with a variety of sizes available.

Held at the Computer History Museum in California, the April event will be the first of three that Google is planning to hold to discuss Project Ara, and will provide a detailed walk-through of the existing and planned features of the Ara platform.

It will also focus on the alpha release of the Ara Module Developers’ Kit (MDK), which will contain everything anyone needs to build an Ara module, or any component that can be used to build a smartphone, such as  the processor, battery, or camera. Google plans to release the MDK online in April, and also announced of a series of prize challenges for module developers. More details on the specific programme of the event will be revealed in the next few weeks.

ATAP is headed by Regina Dugan, the former director of the U.S. Defense Department’s famous Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Google does have previous experience with DARPA projects, as last December the company completed the acquisition of Boston Dynamics, a well-known robot design company made famous by DARPA-funded projects like the robotic pack mule BigDog and bipedal humanoid rescue worker Atlas.

Motorola also offers user customisation for its US-assembled Moto X smartphone, however this only extends to the outside of the smartphone, with users able to choose aspects of the Moto X’s design, including colours, back, front, accents and wallpapers, out of 2,000 possible combinations.

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