Project Ara lives! See the first footage of the modular smartphone booting up

At Thursday’s Google I/O conference, the company’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group gave us the first glimpse of a working Project Ara prototype, a modular mobile phone concept which aims to give users the ability to build their own perfect phone from ‘bloks’.

We really mean it when we say glimpse. As the team powered on the modular phone prototype for the first time in public, they was able to just about boot to the Android home screen before it froze, so we wouldn’t call it the most successful demo in computing history. However, developer attendees did get a look at what the team has been working on and it does show much progress at this early stage.

Besides the demo, the lead for Project Ara, Paul Eremenko, spoke about the Ara’s modules and mentioned that the current prototype unfortunately looses 70 per cent of its endoskeleton space to components required to make enable modularity, reports Ars Technica. But Eremenko assured us that the team is working on making future modules to have an overhead of as little as 10 per cent.

The presentation also brushed on software, which is something the Ara team is still figuring out, in order to tweak Android to support modularity and to see if the system is flexible enough to allow it. The team is also working with 3D Systems on a new, super-fast 3D printing production platform and fulfilment system which runs 50x faster than standard 3D printers in order to create customised production modules, reports Slash Gear.

Project Ara High-Speed 3D Printing System

Project Ara High-Speed 3D Printing System

We are excited to hear the team will bring us more updates and improvements at the upcoming Project Ara conference in fall, where a developer preview device should be available.

Eremenko also announced a challenge, which could potentially win developers $100, 000 and an all-expenses paid trip to the next Ara developer’s conference. Google is looking for someone who can create a working Ara module that does “something that current smartphones can’t do.” The two runners-up will also gain priority access to the Ara developer event.

Interested? You can find the Project Ara Module Developers Kit (MDK) here.

Kai-Li Yang

Kai-Li is a tech enthusiast with an in-depth knowledge of mobile technology, music technology and the entertainment industry. She hails from Taiwan and helps Tech Assimilate to erm... assimilate, all the latest tech news and trends from East Asia. Kai-Li Yang on Google+

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