Google’s Ara Modular Project Shuts Down
A couple of years ago Google came up with this great idea of a modifiable cellphone. The goal of this program was to come up with a cellphone that would be practical for long-term use. Such that you don’t have to switch your cell phone because it lacks ram. It was supposed to have block-like singular components attached to a body. So that if a cellphone lacks camera quality it could be swapped out for a high-quality one.
The cell phone would’ve had add-on parts, even CPU, GPU and Display sensors might be swappable. However later around the start of this year, Google changed the design and spec to a much more conservative design. It killed the option of swapping out the GPU, CPU, Battery, sensors, and display, they were locked out. It kind of killed the initial reason to the AR project. Leaving not much of a reason to buy the Ara.
While the company refused to make any further formal announcements yet. But Reuters reported that the cancellation of the Ara project is indirectly related to an ongoing effort of Google to collect up their hardware projects and bring them into a single group. The company as well killed the Pixel 2 Chromebook without announcing a replacement for it.
Reasons for shutdown
The concept of project Ara is pretty interesting and futuristic, it might be there available in the future. But the real question always was if it will be able to take on a successful market which was never clear and if it will offer replacement parts or not.
They might seem small but were really factors that affected the project. PC desktop hardware is pretty modular since it is big and easy to build parts for and replace with. Smartphones are designed to be as compact and lightweight as possible. For sure obvious reasons in a common Soc the GPU, CPU and I/O hardware is all are built onto the same chip. with the requirement of replacing one of them means the whole chip would have to change and it sure would not come cheap.
Android will need to develop more windows like interface. Drivers are required for every new hardware part added to the device. It will have to instruct people to download latest drivers for hardware modules.
The main purpose behind this concept of the Ara project was to create smartphones which were capable of being more than just some outdated devices in a course of six months. At the rate, the world is modernizing now there are new technologies coming in every week. Same with the smartphones, so to keep up with the pace rather than changing the whole smartphone you could’ve switched modules. The Project Ara if successful would’ve allowed users to repair their smartphones simply by switching modules and created a third-party ecosystem that would have increased the usefulness and the capabilities of smartphones.
The Downfall to this was, the current state of our technology doesn’t support the project. The materials we use have wear and tear in it with the passage of time the modules would get wear and tear. It would end up in unreliability. The interlocks and magnetic components get wear and tear, which would raise issues and also leave the components unusable. This was one of the obstacles Google was having a hard time resolving the issue. In order for components to work the interlocks had to be connected tightly then remain the same way throughout hundreds of changes and not affect the modules.
Gold is often used in such cases however even gold scratches and abrades over a long course of time and the requirements for the Ar interlocks just couldn’t be met with such materials. The interconnects practically would’ve consumed more battery than our everyday smartphones.
Along with these issues and the Googles vision towards the hardware, efforts summarised the killing of Project Ara. No further statements were received from Google. Rumour has it, they might license their hardware to other companies however after the failure of Google trying to make it. There isn’t much hope that many companies would be interested even if not then if they would succeed or not.
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