Hot Swap: Google’s New 11-Piece Modular Phone Prototype

modular phone parts design

A viral hit when it was just a concept, Project Ara is now coming to life in 2015: a mobile phone with interchangeable modules you can exchange on demand to vary its functionality, upgrade its components or potentially even hack your own additions. A ‘Ship of Theseus’ approach means buyers can trade up parts as needed or replace broken pieces without scrapping their whole phone.

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google modular swap phone

Spearheaded by Google’s Advanced Technology & Projects group, the newly-released design is dubbed Spiral 2 and includes “a 1280 x 720 display, 5-megapixel camera, wifi and bluetooth connectivity, light & proximity sensors, a 3G modem with either a band 2 or band 5 antenna, thermal imaging system, battery, speaker module, USB charger and space for 2 different types of processors.”

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modular phone working prototype

But it doesn’t end there: imagine a whole range of potential parts, acting like apps do within the phone’s digital world, that plug in and swap out as desired – you could add unique, custom and/or personalized tools and pieces that only you need, or change configurations for home versus work versus travel.


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modular phone pieces detail

Injection-molded polycarbonate plastic parts are stylistically versatile – they can be user-customized to feature images, colors  and patterns chosen by individual users. An initial roll out will take place in Puerto Rico but buyers can expect to get their hands on this in the mainland United States within the year.

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See more in Phones & Mobile or under Gadgets. January, 2015.