Motorola hints at prototype for modular smartphone

Project Ara seeks to build ‘skeleton’ handset with swappable processor, RAM, camera

Tags: Google IncorporatedMotorola IncorporationUSA
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Motorola hints at prototype for modular smartphone If successful, Project Ara would allow a vendor model similar to that of Dell Inc, in the 1990s. (Getty Images)
By  Stephen McBride Published  December 8, 2013

Motorola is close to launching a modular smartphone that will allow users to choose core hardware components and swap them out in plug-and-play fashion, according to a report by TechRadar.

Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside revealed in a Google hangouts chat that Project Ara had finally yielded a prototype that allowed processors, RAM and camera modules to be swapped in and out of a handset.

"The idea is you have a skeleton that holds together a set of components and the components slide in and out," he said.

"If we have the interfaces and the protocols that enable the speaker to speak directly to the CPU then this would all be possible."

Woodside also hinted that, the modular devices and components could be sold on the Moto Maker customisation website.

"Moto Maker was the beginning of a more exciting and longer-term story, which is ‘how do we involve consumers and give them more choice?'," he added.

"Ara is much further out, but you can see how those two things tie together and how as we introduce new materials into Moto Maker we're going to pursue that theme across our product line going forward. What we'd like to eventually get to is [customising] functionality within the device and that's where Project Ara and Moto Maker may converge."

In early August, Google-owned Motorola launched the Moto X handset, which offered a choice of backplates, materials and colour schemes. If successful, Project Ara would allow a vendor model similar to that of Dell Inc, in the 1990s, when the PC maker allowed customers to choose their own components for a machine that was then shipped to them directly, without the involvement of a reseller or retail outlet.

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