Google is not abandoning Project Ara, after taking over the ambitious experimental smartphone design concept along with the Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group from Motorola. ATAP only just announced Tango, its 3D-environment sensor for mobile devices, and now it’s revealing a two-day developer conference April 15 and 16 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View.
Ara, for those who aren’t familiar, is a modular smartphone project that would allow users to swap out interchangeable parts to give their device a different sensor load out, a better camera, more battery power or anything else your heart might desire. You source new sensors from a store that would operate similarly to a hardware version of the Play mobile software marketplace, and theoretically upgrade your phone piecemeal instead of having to buy a brand new one every few years just for a few new highlight features.
This is the first in a planned series of Ara dev conferences for 2014, Google says, and this event will focus specifically on the alpha release of the Ara Module Developers’ Kit (MDK) which will hit the web in early April. The free platform will offer developers “everything [they] need” to get up and running building Ara hardware modules, ATAP promises. Limited in-person attendance is available, with a $100 fee ($25 for students) covering food and a special social session. Google is approving these based on the strength of your application, so make it a good one.
Ara is meant to be a one-size fits all solution for smartphones, offering anything to any potential user in the world with its range of modules. That’s a hugely ambitious goal, of course, but in ATAP’s own words, they “like epic shit,” so that aim seems within its scope.