More reports on: Telecom

Google's modular phone revealed in video for the first time

01 November 2014

Google has been working on Project Ara, the codename for its initiative that aims to develop a free, open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones.

Project Ara smartphones are composed of modules assembled into metal framesThe platform will include a structural frame that holds smartphone modules of the owner's choice, such as a display, keyboard or an extra battery.

It would allow users to swap out malfunctioning modules or upgrade individual modules as innovations emerge, providing longer lifetime cycles for the handset, and potentially reducing electronic waste

What was not known about the Project Ara was how the actual device would looked like and operated.

A working prototype of the modular phone had been created by engineers behind the project at NK Labs. Users would be able to customise the working prototype by replacing blocks to their preference, thus increasing battery, storage or processing power as required.

An earlier model that was displayed was the Spiral 1 that had creamy white modules and the familiar endoskeleton. Though it was not quite as impressive as mockups that Google showed off at the Google I/O this year in June, the Spiral 1 however actually worked.

In the video, the device could be seen successfully booting past the Android boot screen into the OS. According to NK Labs, the prototype was only half open to developers at the moment but they had made improvements to the Spiral 1 which would be shown in Google's next Project Ara developer conference.

The prototype video appeared courtesy of Phonebloks - originally a rival modular concept that eventually formed part of the Google Ara project, Tech Radar India reported. In the video, engineers at NK Labs are seen working on the design of Ara before finally piecing the prototype together and flicking the on switch.

The video showed Android to be fully functional the user was shown navigating the app grid with the Ara's touchscreen.

The video ends with the announcement of two dates  for events that would showcase the new prototype. The first is set to take place on 14 January, focused on Europe and the Americas while the second, focused on Asia and the Pacific would happen on 21 January.

According to a recent trademark filing with the US Patent and Trademark Office by Google the company would likely retain the "Ara" codename as the product's full title.

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