By Shanie Phillips | Inside 3DP
Google’s 3D printed Project Arasmartphone, once it is unveiled, is likely to revolutionize the smartphone industry. Your average smartphone these days is filled with endless ways to personalize it – from downloading lifestyle apps that track your fitness or send you flight ticket deals to different settings and themes you can choose from to change your phone’s appearance. But at the end of the day, the phone model itself that is in your hands will forever remain the same. You can’t download a better camera to replace the one that came with it or turn your flashlight into a key fob for your car. Until now.
Google’s Project Ara is an initiative to develop smartphones with customizable open hardware. Besides the regular customizable inner functionalities of a phone, the Ara smartphone is unique in that it lets you customize the phone itself. It is comprised of separate 3D printed modules that each have various functionalities. Depending on your mood or your plans for the day, you can alternate between modules simply by detaching one and replacing it with another. It is essentially a build-your-own phone.
Google launched Project Ara earlier this year. In July, the company officiallyshipped outhardware kits to developers for further development and testing. According to Google, the release date for the first Project Ara smartphone will be in the first quarter of 2015. But recent speculation suggests Google may be planning a surprise Ara unveiling much sooner than that.
Google has sent out press invites for an event in India on September 15. The invite, pictured above, says to “block your date” for an exciting new announcement. The phrasing led people to believe Google is referring to the modular ‘blocks’ of the Ara in its invite. If so, the Ara could potentially compete with the iPhone 6, which is due to be released in the next week.
“I think that this is excellent news for 3D printing,” said Netherlands-based 3D printing expert and Inside3DP contributor Joris Peels. “So far the largest scale consumer 3D printed products were not very visible or associated with 3D printing. The millions of hearing aids and millions of dental copings produced each year through 3D printing are not labeled as such. So even though there are several large scale consumer product implementations already this will be the one people will read about.”
It’s impossible to know just yet if Google is referring to the Project Ara in its block the date invites, but whatever the big announcement is it seems like it will be big. Regardless of the actual launch date, it should be interesting to track the Ara’s success in relation to the almighty iPhone.
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