New Phonebloks video talks about collaboration with Motorola

by: Andrew GrushOctober 30, 2013

Motorola recently unveiled Project Ara, a modular handset that will allow users to switch out old components for new. In it’s current form, the project is merely an experiment, but it could someday lead to a level of phone customization that will make even the Moto Maker seem laughable.

In order to popularize the idea, Motorola plans to work with Phonebloks, a company that recently revealed its own modular phone concept.

So what’s next for Project Ara and Phonebloks? In a new video, Phoneblok’s founder Dave Hakkens talks a bit about their collaboration with Motorola, and what exactly they intend to do going forward.

The long-term goal for Phonebloks is to create an active community that will allow folks to speak out about what they want from a modular device. On Motorola’s part, the company promises to develop the platform in the open. Motorola will also actively monitor the feedback provided by the Phonebloks community.

Project Ara is an amazing idea, but there’s still a lot of unknowns, such as how much a phone with modular parts would really end up costing us. There’s also no guarantees that Motorola’s Ara will ever make it beyond the early prototyping stages.

At least it’s good to know that if such a modular platform ever does become a reality, it will be built with around an open concept that allows true freedom and flexibility in a similar way to software platforms like Android.

How do you feel about modular phones, are you interested or do you think that such a device will prove too impractical?

  • kocos94

    Maybe the best idea this year…lookin forward to see what will come out. Only 1 thing –> i hope the blocks can be shared with people so we can save money and help the enviroment…save money….maybe both.

    • Florin N

      this should already be part of the whole concept.

    • gommer strike

      it might work fantastic for you, but the *last* thing I personally want, is for my friends to go “oh hey I just need to borrow your ram and cpu…just swap it with mine for a day…just for today”

      I’m just not a lending person. Been burned more than once.

  • gommer strike

    For the hobbyist/tinkerer market.

    Each module will contain it’s own micro-controller and protection components. As the user, you will need to make damn sure that all the areas of contact are nice and clean and connectivity is well-established.

    As components become more and more miniaturized, so too will the electrical timings become more and more strict. Personally I see this more along the lines of “build your own phone” similar to Dell System Builder, and much less so, a Lego phone where you mix and match pieces whenever and whatever you want.

    Remember to power that phone off before you disconnect the processor :)

    • Gustavo

      It’s not like you are strolling down the street and suddenly “woah, I need more RAM” and you take a 1GB RAM block from your pocket and snap it into the phone.

      • gommer strike

        well you’d already have expanded memory of some kind already in the phone, no?

    • Barny Rubble

      or you could use optical connections similar to TOS link to connect the blocks which wouldn’t suffer from wear and tear.

      • gommer strike

        That would also mean that other unrelated 3rd parties would need to all come together and agree on standards. Remember the nightmare with ISA, EISA, IDE, SCSI, etc the list goes on forever?

        Thinking ahead, how likely would it be for say, Nintendo to agree with taking your smartphone’s block camera and using that for the Wii’s camera? And vice versa?

        • Dejan Dragicevic

          If the idea goes global, it will force all the major companies to adapt. Similar as to, e.g., what Bluetooth did – how it integrated into almost every device and vanquished the infrared connection that we had on something like an old Nokia 5110. Same thing can happen with Phonebloks – it becomes so big that it forces 3rd party hardware/software manufacturers to create products that are compatible with Phonebloks.

          Personally, I’m waiting to see what Motorola has in store for the future – how will they treat this idea, that is. Will they go on with their idea, which already seems to be on the way (btw I didn’t like the way those connectors were aligned on Ara, looked pretty limited to me, compared to Phonebloks) – and who else will join the party working on changing the way we think about mobile phones?

  • Eduardo Speroni

    Ok, let me buy a better camera… Well, now I have to buy a different sized processor, otherwise my camera won’t fit. Ok, now that I spent twice as much as I thought I would, and with 2 extra useless modules, let’s enjoy my new camera!

    You’ll always have to swap other components if you’re upgrading something (unless you upgrade it every few years, at that time you’ll be able to buy a better component of the same size)

    • Dejan Dragicevic

      The concept is that you will be able to realign them, sort of as Lego blocks. Hence the name Phonebloks. Furthermore, as explained in the video, when your old part becomes obsolete, you get a new one and send the old one back. The point is to cut on e-waste – hence the “sending back” part, instead of just throwing it away.

  • chanman

    I feel like we’re still gonna get caught on the upgrade treadmill anyway, and a better central module will come out every 2 years, rendering our old one obsolete because the hardware companies are now developing only for the new, higher-margin module…