The last time we saw Protect Ara the development team was showing us how the modular components would all fit together, the word magnet was being thrown around quite a lot if I recall. So far we have not seen the device in action, but that day might be closer than you think.
The first working Project Ara prototype is expected to show up this month, hopefully just in time for the first Project Ara developer’s conference on April 15th and 16th. Speaking with MIT Technology Review, the development team working at NK Labs offered up plenty of insight into how the project is progressing, as well as some insight into Google’s ambitions for the project.
As well as the prototype of memory, battery, and processor modules that we have heard about before, MIT’s reporter was also shown a prototype pulse oximeter for measuring blood oxygen levels, and a thermal imaging lens module, including an infrared camera lens that was still under development. Project Ara’s range of modular parts looks to be extending well beyond essential smartphone components.
“We believe that the smartphone hardware ecosystem should be, and can be, a lot more like the Android app ecosystem: with a low barrier to entry, lots and lots of developers, and faster, richer innovation,” Paul Eremenko
Looking forward to next year, Google hopes to conduct a pilot test of Ara devices with a basic Wi-Fi module in more budget oriented markets. The device will contain a cheap processor and memory, battery, and screen, and is expected to cost just $50 apiece to make (the retail price has yet to be determined). The test will be targeted in a South or Central American country, where cellular minutes are expensive but Wi-Fi hotspots are common.
Project Ara may still be in the early stages of its development cycle, but there’s plenty to look forward too already. If, like me, you can’t wait to see the modular device in action, be sure to keep your eyes peeled at the developer conference this month.