Motorola sent a shockwave at techies when it revealed it was exploring the possibilities of building a modular smartphone. Since then, talk of modular smartphones has exploded. But the big question remains: how will a modular smartphone be built?
Project Ara is extremely ambitious. Figuring out how to get all of the little modules for the battery, CPU, GPU, etc. isn't as simple as gluing some circuitry to each component. To get the ball rolling, Google is partnering up with 3D Systems, makers of the Cube 3D printer to develop "highly custom, modular smartphones that afford users the opportunity to make functional and aesthetic choices about their device."
"With Project Ara, we asked the question, 'How do we bring the benefits of customization and an open hardware ecosystem to 6 billion people?'," says Regina Dugan, senior VP of Motorola's Advanced Technology & Projects group.
Avi Reichental, president and CEO of 3D Systems also said in a press release that Project Ara aims to "empower consumers all over the world with customization for a product made by and for the individual." Translation: Project Ara is taking the Moto X's "made by you" ethos and customization to the next level.
While the partnership with a 3D printing company is obviously for quicker development and larger volume output, it's possible we may be able to 3D print our own components at home. For all we know, in five years, we could all have 3D printers cranking out our own Project Ara modules and we'll never have to buy another pre-assembled smartphone again.