If you thought Motorola’s announcement about Project Ara today sounded an awful lot like the previously-discussed Phonebloks concept, that’s because it is.
In a post on the official Motorola blog, the company announced its modular phone concept, which would allow consumers to purchase the parts of a smartphone that they want and create their own customized device. Currently, Motorola says they’re in the development stage, and will begin sending out invitations to developers to start creating modules for the Ara platform, the post says, with an early release planned for the winter.
The concept of a modular phone became tremendously popular last month, when designer Dave Hakkens began promoting Phonebloks, a conceptual device that would allow users to customize their phones with a building-block style interface. Sound familiar?
Motorola thought so, too, as they say they’ve been working on Project Ara for over a year. When Hakkens' concept began gaining significant traction online, the company (along with numerous other telecoms) approached Hakkens and Phonebloks to discuss the project further. Now, the two are working together to bring their shared vision to market.
Hakkens released this video on YouTube to explain in a nutshell what has happened from the initial Phonebloks buzz to today:
As TIME’s Matthew Peckham explains, both companies bring something very valuable to the table: Motorola and its parent company Google has the resources and technological innovation to make Project Ara a reality. Phonebloks brings a huge following and fan base, a community needed to support a never-before-seen product like Project Ara and give feedback for its development.
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Faithful to the original concept, the idea is users will purchase a Project Ara endoskeleton (or “endo” as Motorola refers to it) and then purchase the various parts they want for their phones, making them entirely custom to their needs.
If you’re interested in the project, you can look into becoming an Ara Scout through Motorola, to participate in the phone’s development, or visit the Phonebloks website to contribute financially to the development of the phone’s open-source online platform.
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