Google had announced this week that it was planning to postpone the launch of Project Ara, which aims to develop a way of allowing mobile users to build their own smartphones using interchangeable components. The reason? It appears that Project Ara smartphones are not strong enough yet to withstand accidental drops -- the pieces still do not hold well enough together for the smartphone to be realistically ready for daily use.
Project Ara devices work much like Lego blocks, in which separate parts can be attached and detached together. In the case of Google’s project, the components of the modular smartphone are held together via the use of electro-permanent magnet technology. But this piece of tech may not be enough, so the company is now officially working on another system, preferably one that does not depend on power to be able to attach and detach components of Project Ara handsets. As to what exactly this new system is, Google has not provided any details as of yet, other than hinting that it is trying out another signature experience for Project Ara smartphones.
As far as ideas go, the central concept of Project Ara is actually not bad. Most mobile users of today are accustomed to buying smartphones with all the working parts already assembled. Google, however, wants to explore the idea of having the mobile users themselves build the smartphone they want according to their preferences. This is, of course, made possible by making the smartphone modular, with each part ready to be attached and detached according to the mobile user’s whim.
Others may view Project Ara as a smartphone version of how some consumers nowadays build their own desktop computers. It is now quite normal for some people to purchase separate parts in order to assemble a PC that is up to their computing (or gaming) standards. Google, obviously, is thinking of doing the same thing for mobile devices.
Of course, this is easier said than done, as evidenced by the challenges that Google is facing now. Apart from attaching and detaching issues, Google will have to get manufacturers of mobile device components to buy the concept in the first place. And it is not clear yet how phone part makers will find the idea of competing for space on a modular Project Ara handset.
Despite the obstacles that have delayed Project Ara, Google remains unperturbed. The company may no longer be pushing through with its test launch for Project Ara handsets in Puerto Rico, but it will still be looking for another test market in the United States.
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