Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Google's Project Ara



Google's Project Ara wants to revolutionize the smartphone industry within a year

Project Ara brings the modular smartphone from just an Idea to a reality; it nearly looks like it should've made a anaglyph in the Lego film. The Ara consists of a metal endoskeleton, that is basically the spine of the phone, and slots for replaceable parts called modules, that look plenty like tiles. (If you're reminded of Windows Phone when gazing the rear, you won't be the primary.) These tiled modules can include anything that makes your phone tick (processor, RAM, WiFi, power jack, baseband, show and battery, for instance), as well as lots of different options like your camera, speakers and storage space. each module can connect with the other operating components through capacitive interconnects, that are primarily wireless pads that are smaller than standard pins. Electropermanent magnets not only hold modules in place, but they additionally act as a toggle switch, that allows you to easily flip that element on and off. As you might already imagine, all modules can be swapped out at your convenience. ATAP plans to feature Ara in 3 different sizes, ranging from a smaller six-module option to a large-screened model with more modules.

At first blush, it almost feels like this project only appeals to the same consumers that enjoy building their own computers from scratch, however ATAP insists that it will remodel rising markets -- additional specifically, the five billion people on Earth who own feature phones, but cannot afford to get something more expensive. Today, the division announced that it's planning to ship a "Grey Phone," that is just a prepackaged device that comes with solely a screen, processor and wifi module. From there, users can simply add and take away parts as they see work. it'll be comparatively cheap|low-cost} -- the product would cost Google $50 to make, tho' retail price hasn't been determined nevertheless -- and users on a good budget will simply add or upgrade modules whenever they will afford to do so.


Longevity is another huge factor; whereas most smartphones today can barely make it through a two-year contract, Ara is meant to last for several years. This means it'll likely be much less expensive over the long run, and fewer phones will wind up in dumpsters.

According to ATAP, a device like Ara will also bring power of choice to consumer hands. Buying a smartphone often feels like a gamble -- a matter of sacrificing some features in favor of others. With Ara, you'll finally be able to determine exactly what kind of stuff you want in your phone. In essence, it sounds like Google's hoping to "disrupt" the traditional phone makers like Samsung, HTC and LG (as well as carriers), since the average consumer wouldn't need to go through those companies to buy a phone anymore.

When it comes to what kind of modules would be available, the sky's the limit. ATAP has already begun offering a development kit to anyone who wants to put together modules of their own, so there are plenty of possible use cases. One example shown was a pulse oximeter, featured in a long module that extended beyond the rest of the phone's chassis; there was a thick camera module that could easily be swapped out with different kinds of lenses; and we even listened to developers as they floated the idea of a credit card reader similar to a Square dongle. As of this week, it's now up to these partners and devs to explore the space and figure out how to make Ara successful.

This all sounds fine and dandy, but it doesn't come without a setback or two. Despite ATAP's efforts, it's still larger, heavier and thicker than your run-of-the-mill smartphone, and there are some concerns with battery efficiency (although the ability to hot-swap batteries certainly helps). Naturally, the team understands that such matters could be a turnoff for potential buyers, so they hope to resolve these issues by the time the next prototype comes around later this year.

Project Ara is halfway through a two-year mission. The deadline is a driving motivation for the handful of full-time employees and contractors involved in the project, as the expected timeframe was brought up several times during today's conference. There isn't any time for delays, which makes this project even more exciting -- if it's going to happen, it has to be ready to go this time next year. Not only is ATAP facing a ticking clock, but it's also doing so with a pretty hefty to-do list: It has to entice developers, conduct demonstrations at convincing scales and get consumers interested in taking a chance on a brand-new type of smartphone. It's not going to be easy, but the journey will be fascinating to watch.

      



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Video source- Zach McD

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