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April 09, 2014

Google’s Project Ara prototype to finish “within weeks”

Phonebloks has released a video showing the updates on the build-it-yourself smartphone. One of the main highlights of the video is how the Project Ara‘s modules attach and dettach from its endoskeleton using electro-permanent magnets. We also might see a prototype version coming very soon.

If you’re still unfamiliar with Google’s Project Ara, you can quickly check out our related article on it.

The video starts by introducing the people behind the project including the Mechanical Workstream Lead and the Electrical Engineering and Software Lead. They first showed off an application processor board with an attached display to test the OS, apps, drivers, and software — monitoring and determining what works and what doesn’t.

Then they show how electro-permanent magnets are the key to holding the modules in place so the parts don’t break up and scatter when you drop your Project Ara smartphone. Basically, you just slide the modules (memory, camera, battery, etc) into the sockets and the magnet secures the connection. Once properly connected, the phone powers it up and we see in the video that the inserted module begins to light up.

Sample of a camera module

Sample of a camera module

Project Ara’s initial design for the handset was to use a 3D-printed back cover to hide the modules (reported to be just 4mm thick), but the team realized that its sectioned design is what’s making it unique so they decided to show these off instead of covering them. I agree with this move since it separates the device from all other smartphones that we’re seeing today in terms of physique. Users can then personalize these modules according to their liking (hence the module covers with a cat and a skull printed on them).

According to the UI designers, they’re planning to make the future smartphone’s interface to be as simple and intuitive as possible.

That's no concept image, it's the prototype exoskeleton of Google's Ara.

That’s no concept image, it’s the prototype exoskeleton of Google’s Ara.

This is no longer a mere phone that may or may not push through as it is coming to its final stages of development. One of the executives mentioned in an interview that the only thing that needs finalizing are interfaces and protocols that allow the comppnent pieces to communicate with the CPU. It was also said that the team aims to finish the prototype version “within weeks”. Lastly, it was announced that the developer conference will be held on April 15 and 16 — all these point to the near (most likely early 2015) availability of the handsets.

Are you excited about this phone as we are? Any new specs you want to add for your own Project Ara when it comes out?

{Sources 1, 2} {Images}

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11 Responses to “Google’s Project Ara prototype to finish “within weeks””

  1. Easy E says:

    What is exciting here is the promise of a low-cost, hardware-customizable handset. I might have one of these but of the 2nd or 3rd generation.

    • Mon says:

      Absolutely, we control the components, find the best set up for us and if a part no longer works or if there are new tech? just buy that one component, no need to buy a whole new phone :D

      Very exciting, hopefully they create a exoskeleton that is foldable, imagine using a flexible screen on that :o

  2. Benchmark says:

    Hope the components will be available here in Ph para may mga choices talaga.

  3. Kupaloidz says:

    Parang hoax lang ang dating. Pero sana mali ako.

  4. blayde says:

    i supported phonebloks the moment i saw their project… parang PC lang ang dating ikaw na yung mamimili sa specs na gusto mo..

    5.5inch super Full HD IPS OGS screen
    Gorilla Glass 3
    3.0GHz i7 Intel(R) Core(TM) Octacore (64bit)
    Snapdragon 810
    8gb DDR3 RAM
    128GB internal memory
    1/2.0-inch 20.7MP Exmor RS CMOS image sensor front and back camera
    HSPA+, LTE
    WiFi a/b/g/n, WiFi Hotspot
    NFC
    ANT+ support
    Bluetooth 4.0
    aGPS
    DLNA
    GLONASS
    MHL support
    IP55/58 dust and water resistance
    4000mAh battery
    Android 4.4.3 / Windows 9

    pwede rin paunti unti lang ang pagbili ahahaha

  5. roiji says:

    I hope they can find a way to make 3-in-1 components like WiFi+Bluetooth+Cellular on 1 block instead of the 3 components using 3 blocks.
    Or that Wifi+Bluetooth is already integrated.
    Or SIM+MicroSD block or just a SIM block.
    Or MicroSD+Internal Memory..

    haha so many configurations :D

  6. I’m looking for components that make it more convenient for the owner. Like a phone running Android but it’s using a lightning cable as its charging and data connector.

    My phone would have:
    1. An 8MP back camera
    2. A 5MP front camera
    3. Wifi
    4. Bluetooth
    5. An IR blaster
    6. A 5″ screen
    7. A 3″ E-ink back screen
    8. A 4400 mAh battery
    9. A lightning/USB Type-C connector
    10. Quad/Octo/12-core processor running stock Android
    11. A microSD slot
    12. 2GB RAM
    13. 8GB internal memory

    • Hen-Sheen says:

      Your specs are Ambitious. I would want to add a certain type of casing that prevents the users phone from overheating. Also, some consumers would want an HDMI connector for thier smartphones too; watching a 720p or 1080p movie would be a useful feature too!

  7. a says:

    lte + nfc + tv + fm

  8. It’s very easy to find out any matter on net as compared to books, as I found this paragraph at this website.

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Kevin Francisco is the Senior Editor and Video Producer for YugaTech. He's a Digital Filmmaking graduate, a music junkie, and a superhero by night. Follow him on Twitter for more tech updates @kevincofrancis.

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