Project Ara will stay at Google after Motorola Lenovo sale

January 29, 2014
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motorola project ara modular smartphone (2)

Lenovo bought Motorola from Google for $2.9 billion, but Google gets to keep all the crazy future projects the team was working on, including the modular phone Project Ara.

The Motorola sale doesn’t include the Advanced Technology and Projects group of the company, leaving all the skunk work projects within Google for the moment. The team of about 100 people is led by former DARPA director Regina Dugan, and is currently based in Sunnyvale. They will soon move into Google’s main campus, however, and possibly integrate with the Android team.

Google can then use its massive scale and resources to accelerate projects like Project Ara, security tattoos, swallowable sensors, and other crazy science-fiction ideas. Before now the firewall that separated Motorola from the rest of Google prevents the company from putting its full weight behind those projects. Now there’s a chance that Google will make Project Ara a reality faster than once throughout possible. When that is, though, is entirely unclear.

All of the patents created by the Advanced Technology and Projects group will stay with Google, though Lenovo will gain licenses to them.

Paired with Google’s recent acquisitions of Nest Labs, AI developer DeepMind, and robot creator Boston Dynamics Google looks to be doing everything it can to create all of the tech once relegated to sci-fi novels. Having one company that can put a security tattoo on your arm, a heat sensor in your house, and drive your car for you seems like a dystopian science-fiction story waiting to happen. The bright side is that same company will let us customize our phones down to the individual components.

The only real question is will the Advanced Technology and Projects group become yet another group absorbed by Google and never heard from again (hello Sparrow team)? Or will its projects actually see the light of day?

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