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Google’s New Project, Project Ara, is a mobile phone intiative that google aims to develop a free, open hardware platform in creating a modular smartphones. The idea is to have a structural frame that will hold smartphone modules of the owner’s choice like extra battery or dual camera’s for professional. It would allow users to swap out malfunctioning modules. This way users would be able swap out malfunctioning modules or upgrade individual modules as newer technology emerge, also providing longer lifetime cycles for the handset, and possibly reducing electronic waste.
The first model of the modular phone is scheduled to be released in January 2015 and is expected to cost around $50.
Ara phones are built using modules inserted into metal endoskeletal frames known as "endos". The frame will be the only component in an Ara phone made by Google. It acts as the switch to the on-device network linking all the modules together. There will be two frame sizes available at first: "mini", a frame about the size of a Nokia 3310 and "medium", about the size of a LG Nexus 5. In the future, a "large" frame about the size of a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 will be available. Frames have slots on the front for the display and other modules. On the back are additional slots for modules. Each frame is expected to cost around US$15.
Modules can provide common smartphone features, such as cameras and speakers, but can also provide more specialized features, such as medical devices, receipt printers, laser pointers, pico projectors, vision sensors, or game controller buttons. Each slot on the frame will accept any module of the correct size. The front slots are of various heights and take up the whole width of the frame. The rear slots come in standard sizes of 1x1, 1x2 and 2x2. Modules can be hot-swapped without turning the phone off. The frame also includes a small backup battery so the main battery can be swapped. Modules are secured with electro permanent magnets. The enclosures of the modules are 3D-printed, so customers can design their own individual enclosures and replace them as they wish.
Modules will be available both at an official Google store and at third-party stores. Ara phones will only accept official modules by default, but users can change a software setting to enable unofficial modules. This is similar to how Android handles app installations.