Modular Project Ara smartphone prototype not too far off, says Motorola

Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside has revealed the company's Project Ara initiative isn't too far off, and he even went as far as to say we'll see a prototype soon.

Project Ara, revealed in October, is an experimental project by Motorola aiming to do for hardware what Android did for software - creating an open platform for a modular smartphone where you add and remove options and specifications to suit your own needs.

In an interview with popular YouTuber Marques Brownlee, Woodside challenged sceptics by saying Project Ara will launch sooner than later.

“There is a [Project Ara] prototype and it is pretty close,” Motorola’s CEO said. “The idea is you have a skeleton that holds together a set of components and the components slide in and out. If we have the interfaces and the protocols that enable the speaker to speak directly to the CPU then this would all be possible.”

Woodside said the biggest obstacle for Project Ara was making components universally work with each other. Since most components are made for a specific device and its design, making them interchangeable is a struggle. So Motorola is trying to make an open platform.

Motorola said in October that it would be inviting developers to start creating modules for the Ara platform in the next couple months.

The Project Ara phone, in theory, would allow you to build the phone of your dreams. Is a Qwerty keyboard your thing? You can just remove one module from the exoskeleton and add another. The same goes for a better camera, bigger battery, or louder speaker. The idea is there will be a module store, much like the Google Play app marketplace, and you buy modules to upgrade your phone as you go.

Towards the end of the interview with Brownlee, Woodside revealed Project Ara could be available through Moto Maker, the same area in which it currently makes the Moto X available. Customers get customisability and off-contract pricing. It makes sense to hose the Project Ara on Moto Maker, given its overall mission.

Woodside didn't provide any specifics on a timeline for the Project Ara prototype, but he does seem fairly optimistic.

By "not too far off", he could mean 2015 or 2016, after all.