Google has just let us in on another tidbit about the deal it has built with Lenovo over the sale of its Motorola Mobility assets: It keeps the high-tech Q division-type stuff being developed at Motorola’s Advanced Technology Group. That means the Ara modular smartphone concept, as well as sensors you swallow and passwords you tattoo on your skin.
The Advanced Tech team is headed by one-time Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency director Regina Dugan, and has been behind some of the more sci-fi things that Google has demonstrated since acquiring Moto’s mobile biz.
Project Ara was one of those projects that garnered a lot of attention back in October. It essentially features a single base unit design that pairs with components that can swap out including keyboards, bigger batteries, memory, sensors and more. Users can easily customize the device to taste using these parts, building the perfect phone for business, or for travel, or for media consumption etc. And this isn’t something that’s still so far away as to be purely contemplative: Google said back then it would be launching a pilot beta test of the Ara soon.
Motorola’s crack research team was also working on truly wearable (and ingestible) tech, including passwords that are embedded tattoo-like beneath your epidermis and can be activated on command, and authenticators that can be swallowed in pill form. Another ingestible product discussed on stage at D11 last June was a sensor that could be swallowed to relay medical information to a user and their doctors.
One more recent Motorola Advanced Tech project revealed in a patent filing in November details a lie-detecting neck tattoo that uses embedded electronics to take in auditory information via microphones and relay that back to an attached smartphone for analysis. Lie detection is just one possible use (imagine audio recording or other types of environment sensing, too) but it’s definitely an intriguing one.
All of this stuff fits pretty nicely under the Google X division at Google, where its other kooky experiments are currently housed. Luckily this part of the deal should mean we’ll see the Advanced Tech team continue its work under that department, or anywhere at all really, since it’s too interest-grabbing to just mothball away.