A good idea is a good idea while an idea that occurs to many people simultaneously is a great idea. Falling into the latter category is PhoneBloks, an idea that most gadget lovers would have dreamed of already, a modular phone built from interchangeable blocks.
Dutch designer Dave Hakkens plans to change the way we think about our electronic companions. As with all gadget guru’s Dave is constantly wondering how to make his gadgets better, how to build the ultimate phone.
Helping to bring the dream one step closer the industry muscle of Motorola recently announced a partnership with PhoneBloks, a partnership that should help the Bloks materialize faster using Project Ara technology.
Upgrade it, replace bits and generally do anything you like with your phone, assuming it’s made of PhoneBloks. Each phone constructed from a series of functional modules that allows the user to assemble only/any of the functionality they require.
Hoping to appeal to far more than those inclined to build it themselves, the tinkerers of the world, PhoneBloks is also designed to battle the throw away nature of our modern society. Instead of abandoning your handset to upgrade to the latest and greatest you would simply upgrade the part of your PhoneBloks handset that is out of date.
After a highly successful social media campaign earlier this year PhoneBloks attracted the attention of Google’s Motorola. In the month leading up to the announcement of Project Ara Motorola was in contact with Dave, offering him a job at one point, he turned it down to stay focused bringing the industry together for PhoneBloks.
In late October with more than a little synchronicity Motorola announced Project Ara, their very own modular phone project. Once Project Ara had been made public by Motorola they also announced the partnership with PhoneBloks who would bring its online community and social media prowess while Motorola will provide the technology and commercial muscle.
Internally Motorola has been working on the technology behind Project Ara for at least two years. Developed by their super secret Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) team. Ara it turns out is a modular phone technology that Motorola has used to let employee’s build their own phones. Taken around the country on a make-a-thon tour of various Moto offices to see what people would build if given the choice.
The technology is destined to become part of an open platform, hopefully PhoneBloks. According to Moto “We want to do for hardware what the Android platform has done for software: create a vibrant third-party developer ecosystem, lower the barriers to entry, increase the pace of innovation and substantially compress development timelines,” Motorola’s Paul Eremenko wrote. “Our goal is to drive a more thoughtful, expressive and open relationship between users, developers and their phones — to give you the power to decide what your phone does, how it looks, where and what it’s made of, how much it costs and how long you’ll keep it.”
Public support is still needed for the project to keep moving forward, you can support the PhoneBloks team by donating at their website or follow and like them on the usual suspects (see below). Motorola will be releasing the Modular Developers Kit (MDK) to allow anyone to build modules. Eager gadget guru’s can also join Motorola’s Ara Scouts program to help Moto collect data on how people want to use their phones.
Bringing a Lego frame of mind to the mobile phone world PhoneBloks has the potential to become the most unique and undeniably coolest mobile device ever created. The road to releasing an actual product though is sure to be long and fraught with setbacks but the rewards are far too great to be ignored, fingers crossed for the future.