Motorola developing open hardware platform for modular smartphones

One of the problems with a one-size-fits-all smartphone design is that they are only as strong as their weakest component, and because different users have different needs, most of the custom functionality comes through apps, not different hardware.

A modular design, however, could allow users to customize their phone to their needs, or to replace a single component, such as the camera, with one that better fits the way it will get used (or to replace just a single component when it gets borked).

We've previously covered the idea of a modular smartphone, and while there seems to be a consensus from potential users that such a beast might be just what the tech doctor ordered, those with a more in-depth understanding of the technology necessary to bring it off are understandably skeptical.

But that skepticism hasn't stopped one of the mobile phone giants from launching their own modular smartphone project, and Motorola's Project Ara aims to develop a "free, open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones."

"We want to do for hardware what the Android platform has done for software: create a vibrant third-party developer ecosystem, lower the barriers to entry, increase the pace of innovation, and substantially compress development timelines. Our goal is to drive a more thoughtful, expressive, and open relationship between users, developers, and their phones. To give you the power to decide what your phone does, how it looks, where and what it’s made of, how much it costs, and how long you’ll keep it." - Motorola

It turns out that Motorola has been pursuing the design for Project Ara for over a year now, and will be working with Dave Hakkens, the man behind the Phonebloks modular phone concept, as well as with developers who want to begin creating modules for this platform.

© Motorola
The Project Ara platform is based on what they call an endoskeleton (the frame that contains the modules), which can integrate just about any module that can be developed, from a new processor or display to an extra battery.

More info on this modular smartphone project will be forthcoming from Make With Moto, the Motorola Advanced Technology and Projects team.

Tags: Cell Phones | Technology