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Google teases modular Project Ara smartphone concept

Posted on Thursday, January 15 2015 @ 18:55:27 CET by

Google showed off Project Ara, a concept of a new modular smartphone that allows end-users to customize and upgrade the phone with new modules. The Tech Report writes Google showed off its "Spiral 2" prototype at the Project Ara Developers Conference yesterday, a Spiral 3 model is expected to follow in the second quarter with a pilot program in Puerto Rico during the second half of the year.

A bigger launch is expected by September 2015 as the search giant still needs to work through some hurdles, including the high power consumption or module connectivity. For the test in Puerto Rico, Google expects to have 20-30 modules ready plus a configurator app to streamline the customization process.
Google demoed its latest "Spiral 2" prototype at the conference. It sounds like the device is mostly functional, but the journalists who got hands-on time didn't really get a chance to use the thing. Engadget reports that the prototype has two modules up front, plus eight in the back. Processor options include Marvell's PXA1928 and Nvidia's Tegra K1.

Communicating with the various modules apparently requires a fair bit of power. Google attributes 20% of the prototype's battery drain to keeping module connectivity alive, a figure that will hopefully drop with the next Spiral 3 iteration. That upcoming prototype will have a custom Rockchip SoC with native UniPro support for module links.



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