Posts tagged Phonebloks
Behind Google’s expansive teams working on more open projects like their engine, Google Shopping Express and more, there are more teams, still big and including lots of people, just not as publicly known. Many of these projects come from Google X, Google’s top secret labs working to find creative and unexpected ways to fix our modern world’s problems. On of these projects that was released as a concept was Project Loon, a project bent on giving everyone is the world good cell connection using hot air balloons. Crazy, I know, but if anyone could find a way to achieve that it would be the teams at Google X. Another one of the these projects is Project Ara, a modular phone that Google is working on with Phonebloks and Motorola, which of course is now part of their own company.
Project Ara has been going on for a while now, and is about to launch into phase 2 prototypes. The basic concept of this “modular phone” idea is that you can interchangeably take new features like a camera, an extra storage block, a big speaker, and more and switch them in and out with the blocks you already have in your phone. If you take all the block out of the Ara phone, there will be the basic block hull, on which you slide in all your chosen blocks in certain positions. That way, you never really have to throw out your phone. If a better screen is developed, buy the new screen and take out your old one. If you want more storage, just buy a bigger storage block. If you want more battery, buy a bigger battery block.
This won’t leave out third-parties, though, as they could make their own blocks such as flashlights, a card holder, whatever you could think of. The companies literally get to make a part of the consumers phones, which doesn’t usually get to happen, unless of course you work for Apple, Samsung, etc.
Also, the phone’s design will be a lot more customizable than most phones, as each of the individual blocks will be available in a couple different colors and patterns. And while I’m on the topic of customizability, Project Ara is definitely the most customizable phone made yet. Not only can you get the apps you want, but you can get whatever feature fits you. As I said before, this phone, if enough blocks are designed, could be the perfect phone for everyone.
Sure, Ara may never have the same feel and smoothness as Apple products, or the number of features as Android phones, but it will be targeting an audience completely different: the people who use their phone in pretty much one or two ways, maybe relating to their job, and want it to be optimized for that reason. But, for Project Ara to actually compete in the smartphone industry, they will have to get a lot right; the feel of the phone in your hand, the quality of the blocks, the amount of third party devs they get into the project, the processing speed, the amount of blocks they make, the list goes on and on. But if they do get it right, Project Ara could be a new big competitor in the smartphone market.
Just a update on Project Ara, the Prototype 1 is finished, which successfully launched Android in a recent video uploaded(below). The next prototype is now in production.
When you get a phone, you know it may not last very long. You can easily drop it or leave it somewhere. Many companies offer cases to protect it, but most just don’t look good, and the look is half a phone’s worth. Plus, even if you do make it for a year or two, a new model will come out and you’ll throw yours away. That creates a lot of “electronic waste” that crowds landfills. This is the problem that Phonebloks is supposed to help fix.
Phonebloks is a interesting concept for a phone that can last a very long time, because it has easily replaceable parts. But before I go into the actual design, remember that it only at concept stage, and is not yet designed to look as slick and as thin as possible. Anyway, the main design for Phonebloks consists of three layers. Of course, the first is the screen. In the middle, there is the motherboard, base, or whatever you prefer to call it. Third is the layer that sets Phonebloks apart from other devices.
On the back of the middle layer, there are holes, similar to breadboards for you engineers out there. For the device to work, you have to snap in little blocks that make up the whole of the phone. Each block represents a different part of a smartphone, and when you snap them in, the smartphone works. So whenever your phone slows up, or the screen shatters, you can just replace the block. Also, different companies make their own blocks, so you could (conceivably) get a Apple camera, a Samsung battery, and Nokia form factor.
Another great capability of Phonebloks is that you can customize your phone. If you love to take pictures, upgrade your camera block while keeping your processor and storage the same, if you just upload your photos, anyway. Or, if you like to surf the internet or Instagram constantly, improve your antenna and Wifi blocks. You decide for yourself. Overall, it is an interesting concept/prototype, with good intentions, despite a potentially high cost and questionable implementation. We can just hope it actually comes to this crazy phone market and sells.