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Question of the Day: What Modules Would You Include in Your Project Ara Phone?

project ara

Project Ara, the modular phone project now run by Google, is probably one of the most interesting smartphone developments for tech enthusiasts to pay attention to in years. The idea is simple – you have a bare-bones skeleton phone that can be customized through modules that are created by third party outfits. Things like battery size, camera sensor, CPU, RAM, radio connectivity, and display could (in theory) all be chosen and then swapped depending on the user, time of place, or budget.

Think about a phone that could start at $50 because it only has display and WiFi modules, but could then reach a variety of price points from there through camera additions, 4G LTE radios, a higher-resolution display, an awesome speaker, or a 2-day battery? And then think about next year, when a new camera module is out or a display can be upgraded from 1080p to 2K or Qualcomm releases a new Snapdragon? Wouldn’t that be the life? 

Project Ara

Google is leaving module development (for the most part) up to third parties, so that could mean you have an AMOLED display module from Samsung, speaker module from someone like Sonos, a camera sensor from Sony, and a battery from Motorola (plus a back-up module), all made for Ara. Those are random examples of well-known companies who may not participate at all, but you sort of get the point here.

So I’m curious, how would you build a smartphone with modules? Where would your focuses be? If you could build a Project Ara smartphone, what would you include?

Let us know in the comments.

  • Edward Smith

    A module that facilitates easy use of other larger sensors that can’t fit the form factor of Ara.

    Sure there are ways to manipulate the current on board smartphone sensors to do interesting things but these are imprecise measurements at slow speeds with the added error of post processing fudge factors.
    Imagine being able to link your an actual radiation sensor rather than a CMOS camera sensor workaround.
    Maybe a wall stud finder and voltage/current sensor working in concert with the smartphone camera recording the live location of the external sensor to give the home owner an accurate “X-ray” view of a wall?
    How about medical sensing technologies? Ole Doc Bones would wave around the blinking salt shaker to check patient’s vitals.

    I don’t want to just make my smartphone look like a tricorder, I want to be able to use it like one too.

  • http://brgulker.wordpress.com/ brgulker

    Moto X display (720p is more than enough for that size screen), plastic to cut cost, G2 battery, middle of the road camera, no front facing camera, GSM radio, SD slot.

  • Linx

    This is the best idea in mobile, since the invention of the smart phone!

  • Eyal Shalev

    I’d take that full 2 day battery please with the top snapdragon processor a 2GB RAM.
    The screen can remain 1080p. And a 12MP OIS camera sensor. 16GB storage.

    • Linx

      THANK YOU! Some days I feel like I’m the only one who cares about battery life on these blogs. I’m frustrated on a daily basis by a phone that requires me to carry a charger & pray that I can find an outlet or by having to carry some gigantic battery pack to make it through the day. I have no idea why Samsung is the only phone manufacturer that allows for a spare battery…SMH!

  • KidFlash1904

    Slide out keyboard!

  • artsr2002

    Could I have a GSM module and a CDMA module with this then? Cool.

  • Keith taylor

    All i can imagine is people walking around with pockets full of modules and trading them like baseball cards..

  • MrWicket

    all the things!

  • steelew

    screen, battery, camera (front/back), comms (3/4G LTE WIFI, bluetooth, gps), storage module (large with no external memory needed), LED notifications & flashlight, speaker module, wireless charging, NFC, sensor module: thermomter, barometer, gyrometer, accelerometer…). Finger print scanner…ha ha ha just kidding, that would be stupid.

  • Christopher Young

    Headphone amp. I want to make an audiophile smartphone.

    • Dan

      glad to see someone making something besides just a smartphone.. think outside the box people!
      Contractor modules – ir temp sensor, distance measurement sensor, nail gun..
      Environment sciences modules – o2, co2, methane, all sorts of probes, ph, etc..

      I’d have to carry around a case just to hold all my extra sensors.

  • Jaimin

    This feature need to be in android http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMU51KeRIcs

  • Bruce Wayne

    Don’t care. I get a new phone every 5 months so I don’t understand why this is awesome unless I planned on keeping the phone forever.

    • flosserelli

      Not everyone can buy a new phone every 5 months. Besides, the most compelling aspect is that you buy what you want according to your priorities, and don’t pay for things that you don’t need.

    • QPHALO

      You wouldn’t really be keeping the same phone forever. When a new module that is better comes out, you buy it and replace your old one. So now you aren’t having to buy a new phone just cause the nonremovable one in your old phone died, or the screen broke, digitizer went crazy, speaker quit working, etc. Now instead of paying 500+ every 5 months, now you spend a lot less. Really a good idea because we have all seen how they like to release a new phone and the only difference from the last one is maybe chip set and updates to their own ui skin.

  • aBabyPenguin

    Did no one else freak out when they saw Active Notifications on those devices?? Since it’s Google, I wonder if that amazing feature will be making it into stock Android! :D I can only hope!

    • Kevin

      If it is that means OEMs are going to have include the X8 CPU or something similar to it. And then Samsung is going to call it S Display.

  • ConCal

    -a pico projector you can swap in and out when you need it.
    -a module that just has a set of hardware buttons you can use in a poweporint presentation to switch through slides.
    -a module that is a DSLR camera camea and you can just click it in when you want a full featured camera.
    -A barcode scanner or credit card reader, like square. (Perfect for merchants)
    -a night vision camera.
    -All different types Of sensors, like a tire pressure gauge or a heat sensor CO2 detector.
    There are tons of ways it can be used, especially in the industrial space.

  • Justin Larmay

    I wonder how easy they are going to make it to swap parts? Wouldn’t it suck to leave your phone on the table and come back to find your camera was jacked?

  • Alex Goings

    I would just build a stupid beast phone. Best fastest processor available with the most cores, highest res display possible, lots of ram, 64 gig storage, a decent camera, reasonable speakers and a big enough battery to get me through 27 hours.

    • superg05

      you thinking to small with a module that size you could have a tb if used same compression as microsdxc 128 gb cards

    • Kevin

      It’s already avaliable. Its called the Note 3

  • Viet Hoang-Tran

    QWERTY Keyboard :D