In The News
12 Mar 2014

The Google Project Ara – Finally something truly innovative in smartphones


The Google Project Ara – Finally something truly innovative in smartphones

Guest AuthorBack when we were kids, playing Lego involved a ritual. Gathering individual blocks, putting them together in certain manner and then rejoicing the final outcome with a wholesome satisfaction of creating something beautiful and complete in an aesthetic sense. That was our first primary sense of how the pleasure of creating something great actually feels like.

Google has found the answer to it, yet again. Continuing its smart foray into the smartphone industry to combat Apple's home turf, Google is exploring areas that were previously thought impossible even to perceive, and has put forth entirely mad and astonishingly futuristic Project Ara and Project Tango smartphone concepts. Finally, we have something truly innovative in smartphones.

A brainchild of Motorola's Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group, now owned by Google, the Project Ara is mildly related to Lego in a truly honest way- building blocks! Both true and false, Ara is a smartphone that has customizable hardware (Yes!) components, and lets users create their own model with individual parts of their choice, but it isn't anything like Lego. Imagine the crazy things that one can now do to his phone. Let me help here - choose your processor of choice, have as many camera lens in your phone as you want, don't like the sound coming out of your abysmal speaker - Go ahead, change it yourself! Like I said, there are endless possibilities with the Project Ara.

Christopher Mims, a science correspondent with Quartz, provided me the first glimpse of Project Ara last year, and to be honest, I saw the prototype technology to be one of those which never make it to their commercial launch. Alas! This is Google and not just any other tech firm. Mims asked if this new technology could actually threaten Apple's market leadership. I refuted the idea back then, but now after so much has being said and talked about Ara that I'm beginning to understand what Mims actually meant. If concepts like Ara and Tango takeoff for real, Apple's iPhone could be running to take cover.

Project Ara - a closer look

First of all, Ara will be an Android device, which means Google will now truly be the king of both software and hardware customization in smartphones. The design isn't that futuristic, and has a tough metal skeleton, called an 'endo', in which different components can be slotted as per one's desire. Incredible and simple at the same time, just like Lego. This will be an entirely new experience amid the technology enthusiasts. Ara phones are designed with a general idea to allow hot-swapping of individual modules in and out at will. This 'hot-swapping' actually means that you can swap modules without powering the phone down!

Consider this situation, you are usually low on battery and hardly use your phone for multimedia activities like taking pictures and blasting music from the onboard speaker. The Project Ara smartphone allows you to remove the camera and speaker components at will, thereby freeing up room for another second battery and solving your juice equation. Simply slide the camera and speaker modules, and then slot in your second battery. Piece of cake!

As per a report by Time, Paul Eremenko, an ex DARPA alumnus, is leading the team working on Project Ara. Highlighting his exuberance with the ambitious and possibly most innovative thing to happen to the smartphone industry in a long time, Eremenko was quoted as saying, "The question was basically, could we do for hardware what Android and other platforms have done for software? Which means lower the barrier to entry to such a degree that you could have tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of developers as opposed to just five or six big [manufacturers] that could participate in the hardware space."

Google's ATAP is organizing the first two-day Ara Developers' Conference that will be held during April 15-16, 2014. This phenomenal and possibly paradigm shifting technology's Developers' Conference will be held online, replete with a live webstream and an interactive Q&A session. As per the official website, a limited number of participants will get the chance to attend the conference in person at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California.

We are at a conjecture where the evolution of science and technology could be either frightened upon or taken for granted as mere things that are for geeks. However, innovation and creativity are running ahead of the vision of philosophers and designers, and to be honest, they might just breach the dream versus reality barrier. Curiosity might ultimately prevail over fiction, and we will have a present that is just as elegant as perceived at the start. In all fairness, I can't wait to get my hands on Google Ara and Tango - the real-smartphones!

Source: GIZMODO India