Motorola is revolutionizing the smartphone industry with a new modular device that would make it unnecessary to buy a new phone every two years. Putting hardware in the hands of third party developers with their latest venture, Project Ara, the company hopes to draw upon the community nurtured by Phonebloks creator Dave Hakkens to have designers transform the smartphone from a single unit to a modular device.
Motorola hopes to accomplish with hardware what the Android operating system has done for software. Over the past six months, the company’s developers took hackable phones and 3D printers on tour across the country for a series of “make-a-thons.” The trip resulted in Ara, a set of modules that share a common endoskeleton that links the individual units.
Project Ara developers hope that consumers able to customize their devices will hold on to their phones longer and return to Motorola for replacements. The company would not have to worry about assembling an entire phone or spend money to internally ascertain what users want. Customers have the advantage of controlling how much their gadgets cost and what they do.
Upgrading parts of the phone may also have the potential to reduce the overall amount of e-waste that the industry produces each year. Instead of tossing the entire unit, individual elements could be reprogrammed, hacked, or recycled.