Mobile phones are a bit silly really. We sign up to 24 month contracts to spread their wallet-emptying cost, promising our handset that we won't lust after any new smartphones to flirt the latest tech at us during our 2 year relationship. Then, after months of faithful service, we ditch them.
Motorola are hoping to change all that with Project Ara - a modular phone system in which consumers can simply upgrade or chop-and-change their handset as they like. Want a bigger camera? Bolt it on. More battery power? Add the relevant unit in a Lego-like fashion. Can't be doing with cameras but want a bigger processor? You got it.
The idea first gained popularity when Dave Hakkens started pushing out his Phonebloks concept - a build-your-own mobile revolution that would stop us wastefully ditching our tech after a year of abuse, thus helping save on tech waste and saving us cash. Motorola have been working on Project Ara for over a year, but have now partnered with Hakkens to present his million-strong community of backers with the customisable hardware they've been yearning for.
As Motorola explains on their blog, Project Ara has the potential "to do for hardware what the Android platform has done for software: create a vibrant third-party developer ecosystem, lower the barriers to entry, increase the pace of innovation, and substantially compress development timelines." That means more small tech groups competing to create better modular upgrades, further reducing costs and giving you the chance to upgrade your phone without needing to wait for your contract to expire. It'll also make replacing a broken component much, much easier.
Motorola will provide more details on Project Ara in the coming months. For an impassioned explanation on just how modular phones could change the smartphone world, check out the original Phonebloks video: