When Motorola announced that they had their own modular smartphone project in the works, we were all pretty surprised. Not just because it;s a pretty incredible idea to think about but because, earlier on in the year we were all dazzled by the Phonebloks’ concept. While that was certainly more about getting people to think about modular devices, as oppose to yearly, throwaway devices that cause waste, Motorola’s Project Ara seemed a little more realistic. Indeed, the project doesn’t seem to be something Motorola is going to leave on the back burner and, as Engadget is reporting, the Google-owned manufacturer has just signed a deal with 3D Systems to manufacture such devices, or parts of devices, if you will.
Motorola and 3D Systems have signed a deal to create a complete fabrication process in what Motorola is dubbing a factory “of the future”. Specifically, the deal is a long-term affair and 3D Systems will be charged with creating “multi-material printing capabilities including conductive and functional materials” in order to produce the blocks that will make up Project Ara devices. This deal inches Project Ara closer towards reality by just a little bit and, adding to work already undertaken with Phonebloks, it certainly looks like Motorola and Project Ara are going places.
Of course, such an ambitious development as this is still years away and 3D Systems will only become Motorola’s manufacturer if their as-of-yet unproven printing process works out and stands up to testing. We’re pretty sure though, that neither 3D Systems nor Motorola would enter such a deal if it were to go nowhere. Project Ara could shake up the wireless industry considerably and arguably make things even easier for carriers, as a phone you have on a two-year contract might genuinely last those 24-months. It’s an exciting time for the mobile industry, with improvements in processing power happening all the time. and new technologies like flexible displays and now ambitious plans like Project Ara on the horizon.