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Thread: Ever wanted to build your phone like you do your pc

  1. #1
    Administrator M.A.A's Avatar
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    Oct 2011
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    Ever wanted to build your phone like you do your pc

    Ever wanted to build your phone like you do your pc?
    Look at the modular phone from Google.

    You know how it is with your PC, when you first fire it up, and this shiny, new and lean machine tears into heavy 3D games with frames per second shooting up, and it burns through the OS like a lightsaber through arms. As time goes on and the demands on the hardware grow, the frame-rate drops off, the start-up becomes gradually longer and this one time stallion begins to look more like a pack horse. What's to be done? Do you throw it away and buy a whole new machine? Unless you're rich or insane, then no, of course you don't you replace the slow parts. Overly unresponsive? Try a faster CPU. Chugging graphically? Grab a new GPU. Slow drive? Pop in an SSD.

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    Consider your phone, then. The journey is often the same, starting out fast and responsive, but time and updates gradually slow it to a frustrating crawl. Unfortunately you don't have the option of a new CPU. GPU or faster memory; it's all or nothing, and to get over the hump, you have to invest in new hardware from top to bottom. When your new phone has 50% of the same components, such as the same screen, you find it even more of a choke to splash the cash. So what if you could take the modular approach from the PC and apply it to the mobile phone? Google's way ahead of you.

    Project Ara was first mooted by Mountain View last year as a modular approach to mobile phone design. Looking like a cross between Lego and a PC, the system offers three baseplates, with sizes ranging from the smaller iPhone 4 size to a medium Lumia size with a larger 54 size to come.
    These devices then fit together in a modular fashion, allowing the owner to pick and choose different aspects such as screen size, battery size Sensors and more. They live aboard a metal baseplate and clamp rigidly to it via electro permanent magnetism a form of electromagnetism that remains attracted even without constant electrical flow. The Ara team has found the bond created so effective that the entire device does not have to be encased in an additional shell, therefore giving the device a unique look that's also capable of many different permutations.

    So, beyond the ability to upgrade specific elements, why would you want a modular phone? Have you ever looked at a device such as the iPhone 5 and admired its design but lamented its lack of battery power, then felt like you'd be happy to swap some of the former for more of the latter? Or how about you just wanting a basic browsing phone with a big screen but without the need for a screaming CPU? Or just a phone that you can customize to make it your own? This is what Ara offers, the ability to tailor a smartphone to your needs.

    Say you're going on a camping trip. Imagine that you could change your fast, slick, thin city phone for a bigger battery more efficient CPU and maybe even remove some of the more superfluous aspects of the device. Do you really need that huge screen, for example? Can you cut the size of the screen and pop a solar panel or second battery in the remaining space? The ideas don't stop there either as Google wants third parties to get involved in the manufacturing of additional components. This could potentially open up the market for an array of esoteric sensors that would find no use on a regular phone such as a carbon monoxide detector. Not so helpful for the average user, but for someone who regularly works in a dangerous environment, it could a literal life saver. On the flip side, we may see the ability to 3D-print your own custom spacer tiles to truly make a device your very own.

    There's no denying Ara is not going to be cheap and will be a niche product. However, should the concept take off, there's no telling what may happen. If it were a success and the Ara platform becomes an industry standard, then the economies of scale for manufacture would mean the costs, and therefore the price, would drop. As ever we may see this really take hold in the hands of younger users, those hungry to stand out from an ever similar crowd just look at the market for phone cases as an example of self-expression.

  2. #2
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    Jan 2015
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    Wondering when it will come to market.

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