Project Ara update shows progress on modular phone

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Phonebloks has updated the world on Project Ara, the first modular smartphone being developed by Google. After a few months of silence, Dave Hakkens stringed together a video of people working on Project Ara discussing how the modular smartphone will work, ahead of the developer conference on April 15-16.

The most interesting part of the Project Ara video was when the electro permanent magnets were demoed, showing how the modules are able to be placed and replaced without breaking the device and its functionality.

Normally, if another processor was added to the same smartphone, it would have to go through different drivers and the way phones are built and distributed means the processor wouldn’t be supported, crashing the device and making it unusable.

Project Ara looks to make this a non-factor, on the software side it looks like the modular phone will accept quite a few different manufacturers and there is a team working on different module designs for the smartphone.

The electro permanent magnets allow different parts to work without constant needs for electricity. It will be interesting to see third parties get involved with this new module technology, we believe development kits will be sent out in the next few days.

Project Ara will come in three different sizes: Mini which will come with a 2 x 5 module grid, Medium with a 3 x 6 module grid and Large with a 4 x 7 module grid. Large will apparently not be in the first batch of developer kits, looks like work still needs to be done before the board is ready.

Modular phones became a big point of interest when Phonebloks revealed how electronic waste could be stopped and users could replace a single part, instead of replacing the whole phone when it begins to break.

People were skeptical on Phonebloks and its ability to deliver, but now Google is working on Project Ara it appears the plan is becoming real and once the developer kits are sent out to different manufacturers we may see true support for the idea.

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