Advancements in technology have always helped the world to take larger steps forward, but Google Ara may just be ushering in an entirely new era. Near the end of July, Google began receiving applications from developers for their new Project Ara boards. The limited number of Project Ara boards, however, has moved the company to say that they will only be accepting applications that showcase large-scale innovation. The reason for this could be that Google is looking to reduce, perhaps completely, the need to throw away entire phones.
Google Ara is a modular phone that will have a base price of around $50 USD, a price that may introduce a new era all its own. Instead of buying a completely brand new phone, consumers will be able to simply remove older components and replace them with new ones. If a new 16MP camera module comes out, for example, it would be able to replace the 8MP camera module that the device originally came with. Upon the release of this new device in 2015, there will be a total of 3 sizes that will be available. There will be a mini with 9 slots for new modules(MODs), a medium size with 10 slots, and finally a large “phablet” size with 11 slots. The number of MODs that can fit on each device will vary as there are 1×1, 1×2, and 2×2 slots available. As developers create more and more options there are many different possibilities as far as the creation of new modules is concerns. Medical sensors, specialty camera lenses, in addition to alternate port MODs giving consumers access to USB 3.0 or micro HDMI are just a few of the options that could become available. One of the most interesting possibilities comes in the form of alternate antennas, which could pose problems for wireless carriers.
However, none of these features are actually part of the main reason that Google is moving so quickly through Project Ara. Google is looking to bring smart phones, and similar technology, to the some six-billion people around the world that do not currently have them. The $50 USD base price will allow many more people to actually be able to afford a smartphone, but also continue to keep that phone up-to-date. Spending $150 USD for a new processor, and camera, is much easier than spending $400 or more, for an entire new phone. Dropping a phone without an insurance plan and destroying the screen will no longer be a game changer, and say goodbye to the out dating of phones every two years, as these new phones are projected to last into the five year range.
As the day draws closer to the commercial release of Project Ara in early 2015, excitement will no doubt continue to build. Many though still wonder if Google and its partners at ATAP(Advanced Technology And Projects) will be able to overcome many of the obstacles in their path. Some have said that the world may not truly be ready for another paradigm shift in mobile technology. Statements can not always be answered with a few simple words however. It is possible that world may not have an answer until Google’s Project Ara launches them directly into a new era.
Opinion by Phillip Schmidt