Google’s phone firm Motorola has announced a new project that will allow users to build their own modular smartphone. Project Ara will let users buy a plastic phone structure, named an endoskeleton, and then add-on modules such as a keyboard, battery or other sensors, giving them flexibility to customize the phone.

Project Ara

Motorola is working with the Dutch designer Dave Hakkens, who has created Phonebloks, a modular phone idea. In a blog post Motorola revealed it had been working on the project for more than a year and added: “We want to do for hardware what the Android platform has done for software – create a vibrant, third-party developer ecosystem.”

“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,” the post continued.

The endoskeleton or the frame of the phone will hold all the chosen modules in place.

“A module can be anything from a new application processor to a new display or keyboard, an extra battery, a pulse oximeter – or something not yet thought of,” the firm said.

Project Ara

A “Gimmick”

Although some are viewing Project Ara as a breakthrough, there are also those who feel it is all a bit pointless.

Principal technology analyst at Davies Murphy Group, Chris Green, feels the project is just a “gimmick”.

“I don’t see this as being a big deal. It is not responding to any particular demand and there is no real benefit to assembling your own device,” he said. “The days of DIY IT, people building their own desktop PC, are gone due to falling costs of hardware.”

Motorola’s next step is to invite developers to create the modules, which will be followed by a module developer’s kit.

[Images via Motorola]