Just when you thought that the Smartphone sector is already saturated with unexciting mundane designs, Google surprises by finding an entirely un-captured section to compete head on with the elites of Smartphone innovation with Project ARA.
The online tech scene has been set abuzz with news of Google’s new love child, exciting potential consumers and players of the tech world. With two years in the making, ARA’s second prototype the ‘Spiral 2’ was launched during developer conferences conducted worldwide. With the clear intent to dominate, Google has opened the flood gates for Smartphone elites and a throng of excited consumers like myself, introducing us all to a wild and crazy world; filled with unlimited personalisation possibilities.
So what is ARA?
Have you ever wished you could switch out components on your Smartphone? Fashioned like a futuristic-Lego-puzzle block, ARA allows you to do just that, you can switch out modules of your Smartphone according to your fancy. These modules will consist of parts like your processor, battery, camera, screen and so on. Put into simple terms, think of ARA’s modules as small LEGO pieces attaching itself to a much larger piece, being the endoskeleton. Firstly, the endoskeleton. Essentially the backbone of your Smartphone, it provides structure and shape. Available in three sizes, namely the Mini, Medium and Wide (a third larger than the Medium – catered to the Phablet lovers). Google targets to retail their range of endoskeletons starting at USD$15.
Secondly, the modules. It is like walking into a candy store, there is a wide variety of modules for you to pick and choose from. Each module is approximately the size and shape of a small LEGO piece and attached to the endoskeleton by magnets. The amount of modules ARA can house on its front and rear will be solely dependent on the size of the endoskeleton chosen. Here is where personalisation of the Smartphone’s hardware takes place, users are able to pick and choose different modules to fit their lifestyle from high performance processors to bigger batteries.
Just like how Google’s play store is open to all Android users, so will ARA’s modules. Meaning it is an open market for any third party manufacturer to develop and produce modules to fit ARA. Imagine the possibility of having third party developers like Canon or Leica producing a 4K camera module to match your ARA; making ARA a future proof Smartphone.
I really love how Google’s Project ARA addresses real life pains that existing Smartphone makers have not; battery life issues. As Smartphone makers try to come up with longer battery life and better battery saving modes for their devices, Google introduces ‘Hot Swap’. A small battery is encapsulated in the endoskeleton, allowing the user to swap out the modular battery within a one to two minute window, without turning off ARA. For those living dangerously on the edge (like me), this is a literal god send.
Its unique modular design provides an unlimited spectrum of personalization allowing the user to express individuality from the device’s specifications right down to the design of its skin. Instead of having to choose from a pre-selected range of colours, I can now choose a personal picture or design and have it printed directly on the individual module’s shell. Google is also said to be toying with the idea of making its module shells 3D printer friendly. For those who have access or own a 3D printer can print on their shell or print out an entirely new shell for their module, allowing for greater customisation.
Google foresees retailing their basic ‘Grey Phone’ that consists of a basic processor, screen, battery and WIFI to retail at USD$50 possibly by Q2 of this year. It will first be launched in Puerto Rico, citing its high Internet access via Smartphone penetration rate. Packed with virtually endless combinations and choices to choose from, Google’s ARA may actually have a sure win shot at the Smartphone market.
I am really excited about ARA especially so because there is no other Smartphone that allows this much personalisation, functionality and flexibility all packed into a device. So while Google heads back to its labs again, I wait in sheer anticipation for possibly the new king of Smartphones and expect nothing less than an epic battle between the elites of Smartphones and Google when ARA is launched.
So watch your back’s Apple and Samsung, Google is fast on their track to take over the top spot!
By Geralyne Kaye Ong / January 27, 2015 9:30AM GMT+8
Tags: Tech Storm, TechStorm, TV, Google, ARA, Smartphone, Phone, Modular, Modular Smartphone, Detachable, Modify, Modification, Personal, Personalisation, Custom, Customization, Upgrade, Parts, Swap, Change, Switch, Early Adopters, Apple, Samsung, Hot Swap, Future proof phone, Puerto Rico, Elites, Lego, Developer Launches, Unlimited, Individuality, Lifestyle, Device, Grey Phone
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