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Google to build Play-like hardware store for Project Ara

Agam Shah | Oct. 23, 2014
Hardware makers will be able sell swappable modules.

"Today it takes maybe 12, 18, 24 months to make a new smartphone and bring it to market and we're hoping to get that down to a couple of months," Eremenko said.

Google is encouraging developers to come up new module ideas, and is also working on some of its own. The company is chasing the idea of "adaptive commerce experiences" in which health sensors can track monitor human biometric signals.

"That includes galvanic skin response, sweat levels, your pupil dilation, gaze direction, and a variety of things that we can pick up non-invasively about you as you're interacting with the e-commerce system. If you're stressed or impatient or bored with the experience, we could present a differently curated experience," Eremenko said.

During the talk, Eremenko also floated the idea of secure modules with private user information, which can be swapped depending on who's using the smartphone.

Google and Linaro are developing a custom version of Android for Project Ara. Work is underway around plug-and-play recognition so modules are identified immediately without restarting the smartphone. Much like USB attachments, modules will be recognized based on different driver "classes," such as those for storage, input, networking, imaging and others. Some modules not recognized, like high-end cameras, will be placed in isolated zones so as not to compromise the smartphone.

The modules are electropermanent magnets that can turn on and off but use no power in either state. Instead of connectors, the modules use inductive coupling for data transfers.

To make module development cheaper, Google ATAP is also partnering with companies like Flextronics and Quanta so developers can inexpensively turn designs into actual hardware.


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