Project ARA has been on the charts lately with emphasis on its latest development, showed by Google in their current press release.
The idea is an amazing approach to electronic waste management and can bring more re-usability with the amendment of easy upgradeability. No one wants to throw away their new phone because another phone has hit the market and is far better than the current phone. I realized the impact of modular phones can really change how we see and manage electronic waste within our society.
Project ARA is the codename used by Google Inc. for their modular based smartphones; the future of modern smartphones. The idea came to the media attention when a Dutch designer Dave Hakkens introduced the concept of phonebloks during his final graduation year, 2013. There are many sources that say that this idea was presented by other designers before, but not with the same authority that Dave did.
Concept of the Original Idea
Conceptually, the phonebloks (now modular phones) can bring the electronic waste under control. But, how do it achieve it? The phone is controlled by on the main circuit with the option of attaching blocks to the circuit. With this approach, you can change any part of the phone, for example, the camera, the screen or the battery, whenever you need to. There are two advantages of doing so, one is that you don’t have to shell out lots of money.
There are two advantages of doing so; one is that you don’t have to shell out lots of money when something new hits the market, and other is the low electronic waste. The low electronic waste is of prime importance to the current environmental needs and can prove vital in controlling the environmental hazards it brings around.
To achieve modularity, the phone blocks will be of rectangular size and this standard will follow by all the hardware manufacturers for maximum reach.
Why Project ARA is important? Making dream into reality
Google is at the heart of innovation; their policies to interact fast makes them bring products faster than anticipated. There were many difficulties in turning the idea on to reality and that’s why Project ARA is there for. Problems such as economical and technical plague the project.
The journey started when Hakkens started to gather immense support for the project online and in other market segments. After gaining much popularity, Hakkens started the development of the phone in Motorola.
Meanwhile, Motorola Mobility got acquired by Google, but the team from Motorola didn’t stop working on the Project ARA. As Google bought Motorola, they acquired all the rights to work on the project.
The Spiral 2 Release
Recently, Google released the spiral 2 prototype in their office, Mountain View, California. Google is looking forward to the release the first working handset for the public in Porter Rico, this year.
The spiral 2 prototype in first glance looks promising. Design wise, the device is quite amazing. There are 8 modules in the back that are stuck with the phone skeleton. The front is dominated by a large screen and sensors.
So, what modules did the spiral 2 prototype is carrying?
They are Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB charger and processor. All these modules are put in the structure with the help of a magnet in the skeleton of the device.
The spiral 2 prototype is the enhanced version of spiral 2 prototype and fixes lots of issues with the magnet of the phone. Google also indicated that spiral 3 prototype will look for the redesign of the modules so that they work seamlessly in more diverse conditions.
Critics look at Modular Design
The main philosophical idea behind the modular phone aka Project ARA is to reduce electronic waste, but according to many critics around the internet and the intellectual groups see this as a paradox. Their argument is simple; if changing modules is easy, then there are chances that impulsive buyers or even regular buyers will tend to upgrade modules as they flood the market.
In future, more and more diverse and independent module manufacturer will evolve and the device offers a great opportunity for the new startup to chip in with their unique and customizable modules. With the increase in module types and manufacturers; the frequency of new modules will increase drastically, which in turn increases the probability of users swapping modules on the regular basis.
A more critical statement about the mission of Project ARA can be the comparing the frequency of the software changes we made to the module swaps done by the users.
A great device is recognized not only by its hardware but its software as well, and that’s why Google is trying to grab attention of the all the developers across the globe to contribute into the Project ARA.
The reception of the latest prototype looks promising and only time can tell about the future of Modular phones. From look and feel, and how the device is currently working, there are strong indication that the device can bring potentially new market segment in the mobile market.
Modular phones are the 21st century invention, and with Google’s motive to design the device for six billion users, the hype is already been seen and felt among the ripples of the mobile market.
Strategically, this means that the non-modular phones can see the end of the light, but there is also a faction of users that still love a one-piece device than another new concept. There will be transition time taken by many users, and the real results can be found only when it hits the market and how mobile users respond to the device. Modules availability and functional software make an important factor in the success of the modular device.
Do you think that Project ARA will be a success? How will users respond to new technology? Let us know your opinion by commenting below!
Image Source: Verge