Motorola Mobility unveiled its Ara project, which it said is “developing a free, open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones”.
Running under the auspices of Motorola’s Advanced Technology and Projects group, the effort is developing a “free, open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones”.
Ara consists of an endoskeleton and modules, the former of which provides a frame to hold the latter in place.
Modules can be “anything, from a new application processor to a new display or keyboard, an extra battery, a pulse oximeter – or something not yet thought of”.
“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”, the Google subsidiary said in a blog post.
Motorola said that is has been working on the project for “over a year”, and that through its development work it will be partnering with the “Phonebloks community” – a similar project looking to promote modular device design.
“We’ve done deep technical work. [Phonebloks] created a community. The power of open requires both,” it continued.
The company is promising an alpha release of its Module Developers Kit “sometime this winter”.
This is, of course, not the first time that a modular device has been proposed, with perhaps the most prominent in recent memory being the Qualcomm-backed Modu.
But this company failed to generate any significant traction, closing its doors in 2011.
With the clout of Google behind it, coupled with its own long-established technical prowess, Motorola is in a different position to earlier start-ups.