Project Ara Modular Smartphone is Not Dead After All, Just Not Quite as Modular as One Would Wish For

A few weeks ago, one person asked me if Project Ara, Google ATAP project aimed to design a modular phone was still going on. I did not know, but it surely did not seem good with the official website showing a black page at the time, many developers claiming they’ve yet to receive the development kit, a lack of communication, and Google ATAP latest tweet was dated December 2015. That’s until Google I/O, where a project update was given during the event, and the developer kit will be provided in Q4 2016, while a consumer version will be for sale in 2017. That’s the plan at least. If you have 10 minutes, you may want to watch the part of Google I/O 2016 video about Project Ara on YouTube. The developer phone supports up to 6 hot pluggable modules, meaning you can just insert or replace a module, and use it straightaway with turning off your phone. When you want …

Embedded Linux Conference 2015 Schedule – IoT, Cars, and Drones

Embedded Linux Conference 2015 will take place in San Jose, California, on March 23 – 25, 2015, and will focus on Drones, Things and Automobiles. The schedule has been published, and whether you’ll attend or not, it’s always interested to have a look at what will be talked about to have a peak into the future of Embedded Linux, or simply keep abreast with the progress in the field. So as usual, I’ve gone through the schedule, and made my own virtual program with talks that I find interesting. Monday 23rd 9:00 – 9:30 – Driving standards and Open Source to Grow the Internet of Things by Mark Skarpness, Director of Systems Engineering at Intel Billions of devices are beginning to come online, and many of these devices, large and small, are running open source software.  To fuel this innovation, it’s more important than ever for these devices to use a common framework to communicate with each other and the …

Project Ara Modular Phone Update

The modular phone concept started with PhoneBloks, whose founders shortly got to work with Motorola Project Ara, and since Google bought parts of Motorola, the concept is now part a Google’s project. Project Ara Developers Conference 2015 has taken place yesterday in California, but if you’ve missed it, another one is planned in Singapore on January 21, and it will also be live-streamed. We’ve now got a bit more information, a neat video has been uploaded to YouTube showing how a battery, a (broken) display, speakers, and camera modules would slide into the phone, and a pilot project has started in Puerto Rico. Google has very recently shipped Spiral 2 developer hardware enable prototyping and development of modules for the Ara platform. The kit consists of: A board with the UniPro Switch in the Ara endoskeleton and multiple modules interfaces with UniPro Bridge ASICs (Tosbiba T6WM8XBG-0001) supporting multiple bridged  and tunneled protocols; An Application Processor (AP) board with a custom version of Linaro …

Motorola’s Project Ara Open Source Hardware Plaform for Modular Smartphones

A few months ago, I posted a video about “The Smarter Phone“, a concept smartphone that was supposed to be serviceable and upgradeable just like PCs used to be, in order to reduce e-waste among other things. Based on comments here and on Reddit, most people did not really believe the concept was feasible, practical or cost effective, myself included. Fast forward to September, a video about another concept modular smartphone called Phonebloks went viral with over 17 million views. The overall idea is basically the same, but this time there seems to be at least a mockup. Phonebloks features a base where you can attach blocks such as the display, a wifi module, processor module, bluetooth module and so on. It turns out Motorola’s Advanced Technology and Projects group has been working on something similar for a year with Project Ara, and they recently partnered with Phonebloks’ guys, since they were successful in bringing together lots of people around …