Google Releases Developer Kit for Project Ara Modular Phone

Google is working towards creating a build-it-yourself modular smartphone, one that will allow users to build the perfect smartphone based on their individual needs. The device is being developed through Project Ara, part of the Advanced Technology and Projects group at Google. The group is developing a smartphone that features an open-source hardware platform. Customers would start with a base hardware piece called Endo, and then add features through plug-and-play modules.

“These modules can be a camera, battery, wireless radios, really anything partners can come up with,” reports The Next Web. “The hot-swappable modules give users the power to create a phone that works exactly how they want. For power users, a second battery module could be added to an Endo. If your phone is your main camera, you can add the best camera module available.”

The company is planning on releasing the phone in 2015, although it is still in the early stages of development.

Google is planning on introducing an entry-level Grey Phone, that will cost $50 to make, and a high-end phone that will cost $500 to produce. These are production costs; the street prices have not yet been released. Paul Eremenko, head of Project Ara, said that street prices will be dependent on commerce partners.

The size of the “medium” phone is similar to an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S5, and the company is also planning on releasing mini and large versions.

The modules of the phone will easily connect to the phone’s skeleton, called Endo, through electropermanent magnets. When the magnets are turned on they will create a solid bond between the module and the Endo, and will release when they are turned off. The magnets will not need to be charged to function.

Developers are currently creating modules that will be compatible with the Endo, including cameras, antennas, batteries, and processors (the company released its Module Developers Kit at a recent Project Ara event). Users will be able to purchase modules on Google’s e-commerce site.

The MDK is available on the Project Ara site.