Motorola believes that smartphones could be more useful if they are made customizable. That is why it has launched an initiative called ‘Project Ara.’ It is an open hardware platform that could pave the way for creation of highly modular handsets.
In a blog post, the Project Ara Team said it aims to do to hardware what Google Inc’s Android has done to software. Thus, Motorola wants to establish an ideal third-party developer system with lower barriers to entry, increased pace of innovation, and compressed development timelines.
Project Ara has been in the process of development for over a year now. It was originally aimed at driving more expressive, thoughtful, and open relationships between the smartphones, their users, and their developers.
The team is in partnership with Phonebloks, an entity that uses detachable blocks for creating phones that are worth keeping. Its website currently operates Blokstore, which is dubbed as an app store specifically for hardware. Project Ara would combine the deep technical expertise of Motorola with the community owned by Phoneblok.
As part of the effort, Motorola is now looking for Ara Scouts, who would conduct research for the initiative within the coming 6 months to a year. Ara Scouts are would-be-users who are willing to participate in the initiative’s missions to aid research.
The focus would be how to shape the project’s direction. After signing up, the company would send an email about once each month for opportunities to share ideas, photos, and opinions in a wide range of topics that may be related to Project Ara.
The first mission of the Ara Scouts would be to download apps and use those to share thoughts and even visions for Project Ara. They would be given just three days each to do it.
In the next few months, the team would also send invitations to developers to ask them to create special modules for the platform of Ara. Motorola hinted that it might offer prizes to generate participation and cooperation. Project Ara might roll out an alpha release of what is called the Module Developer’s Kit in the coming few months.
This would not be the first time for Motorola to try out customization. This year, its flagship Moto X smartphone has enabled physical customization of the units through offering more color options as well as accents made available through the Moto Maker online site.
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