Tag Archives: phoneblok

Project Ara – The Smartphone Initiative That Could Save You Money

Build your very own smartphone with Project Ara
Project Ara is a code name for an initiative by Google. The aim of the project is to develop a free, open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones. The platform will include a structural frame that holds smartphone modules of your choice. Like lego pieces, you can build your very own smartphone. Constantly on the move? Wack in an extra battery. Can’t commit to a touch-screen? Put in a keyboard. Better yet, once you have designed your custom-made smartphone, you can swap out a module if you wish. For example, if a piece stopped functioning or an upgraded version became available, such as an improved camera, you could simply swap the specific part, rather than the whole device. This would significantly extend the lifetime of your handset, and thus your initial spend. And for the eco-conscious, this platform will also potentially reduce electronic waste.
Project Ara

Why is Google pushing Project Ara?
Currently, smartphone manufacturers include Apple, Samsung, HTC, Nokia, Sony, LG and of course, Google. Yet the number is still limited. With these big players, it’s hard for the little guys to break into the market and show you what they have to offer. Google wants to change this. With Project Ara, the barrier for entry would be lowered. In essence, there could be “hundreds of thousands of developers” instead of the current handful. Anyone will be able to build a module without requiring a license or paying a fee. Project Ara will give the techie genius’s out there a chance, even if they don’t have a bucket load of money behind them. You never know, someone out there could be waiting for their chance to bring you something really special. Maybe even something, revolutionary. With Project Ara, they’ll be able to.

Tell me more about the phone
The frame discussed previously, will be the only component in an Ara phone made by Google. The modules will be inserted into this metal endoskeletal frame known as “endos”. There will be two frame sizes available at first: a “mini” frame, about the size of a Nokia 3310, and a “medium” frame, about the size of a LG Nexus 5. In the future, a larger frame, around the size of a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 will be available. Each frame is expected to cost around $15 (That’s around £9!). The frames will have slots on the front for the display, and other modules. While the back will have slots for additional modules.

Project Ara

What are the “modules”?
Modules will be common smartphone features, such as cameras and speakers. But, they may also provide more specialised features, such as medical devices, receipt printers, laser points, night vision sensors, projectors, and even game controller buttons. The list is endless. These modules are then secured with electro permanent magnets. The enclosures of the modules will be 3D printed, so that you can design your own individual enclosure and replace them if you want. So, where will you go to get your modules? Modules will be available at the official Google store and at third-party stores. Ara phones will only accept official modules by default, but users can change a software setting to enable unofficial modules. This is similar to how Android handles app installation.

I remember PhoneBloks? What’s the difference?
Some of you may remember our post on PhoneBloks. PhoneBloks spread the need for a modular phone with their YouTube video. Initially, Project Ara and PhoneBloks worked independently of each other. Ara started out as a project by the Google Motorola team ATAP, to design and implement the modular phone. While PhoneBloks is a initiative by Dave Hakkens, to increase community awareness about the need for a modular phone. However, once the PhoneBlok video went viral with millions of views, the ARA team took note of PhoneBlocks and the two started working together, with Dave Hakkens taking videos of the ARA Project and uploading them to YouTube.

Down to business:
Price: Google intends to sell a starter kit where the bill of materials is $50 (around £30) and will include a frame, display, battery, low-end CPU and WiFi. You can then add on your chosen modules.

Release Date: The first model is scheduled to be released in January 2015.

Google says the phone is designed to be used by a whopping “six billion people”.
Project Ara - 6 Billion PeopleWill you be one of them? 

Would You Want A Phone That Could Last Forever? The Lowdown on Phoneblok

 phoneblok-2Currently the support for a phone that could last forever has reached 950,653. This phone is called Phoneblok.

So 950,653 people support the notion of creating ‘Phoneblok’. Do you?

The creator, Dave Hakkens, believes Phoneblok will be THE ‘phone worth keeping’. Phones only last a couple of years before they break or become ‘out of date’. The issue is, most of the time just one part of the phone is faulty, but once your model is ‘old’ it can become really difficult to get a repair or replacement parts so you are forced to throw it away.


Apparently Phoneblok is the solution: Phoneblok is a phone made out of detachable ‘bloks’. The bloks are connected to the base which locks everything together into a solid phone.

If a blok breaks you can easily replace it; and if it’s getting old you can upgrade it. A ‘Blokstore’ will be created, like an app store but for hardware. In the store you can buy your bloks, read reviews and sell your old bloks. The creator wants small and big companies to develop and sell their bloks. The dream is that you could buy a pre-assembled phone or even assemble it yourself by selecting the brands you want to support.

So, if you were looking for a camera blok. You could choose the brand you like, the sharp Nikon, the fast Canon or maybe you’d support a startup company? A huge positive of the phone blok is that the choice is yours. You could therefore create your dream phone, combined with all your favourite brands. The bloks could be developed for specific needs. For example you could incorporate solar powered batteries if your all for being eco-friendly, or a sensitive screen for blind people, a lightweight design for travelers and so on.

Clearly the idea has it’s advantage; you could keep any accessories such as docks, covers or cables, you could personalise your phone to your own individual needs and support small companies or your favourite brands.

But, do you really want a phone that could last forever? Is there not something very exciting, about getting a shiny new phone? Something rather thrilling about the await of a model? If Phonebloks are created, where will brand power go? Although the idea of mixing and matching is appealing, I think secretly we all enjoy picking sides. Whether we are Apple fans, swear by Nokia’s battery or would never walk away from Samsung, we all slightly enjoy competing don’t we?

The creator even plans for the platform to be adapted into other sizes to create new devices like tablets, cameras and so on. But, will the brands ever agree? Will Nokia share it’s battery? Will Nikon share it’s camera? Will these brands even consider the idea? After all, they’d practically be handing over their unique selling points.


How can you show support or find out more? Well Phoneblok is gaining attention from Thunderclap – the first crowd-speaking platform that helps people be heard by saying something together. If you like an idea placed on Thunderclap, you can ‘support it’. If enough people choose to support the idea or concept, Thunderclap will blast out a timed Facebook Post or Tweet from all the supporters, creating a wave of attention. The idea is, if you create enough attention, people will notice and in this case, brands may have to listen.

Who uses it? Well, for starts many passionate individuals with a message to share, to organizations such as The White House and the United Nations.

So far Phoneblok has 950,653 supporters on Thunderclap, giving a social reach of 371,628,235.
It’s just 7 days left until the Thunderclap blast – timed for October 29th at 10:00am.

Will you join the Thunderclap?