According to a post on Google+, Paul Eremenko’s two year term as the Team Leader for Project Ara has come to an end. The man, who developed the innovative project and has been in charge of it ever since, would be leaving Google to work with Airbus, according to the same post on Google ATAP’s official account. The post says, “Paul will be the founding CEO of a new innovation center in Silicon Valley for the Airbus Group, one of the world’s leading aerospace and defense companies. We wish our fellow pirate fair winds and following seas”. Google is yet to officially announce a successor.
Before Google, Eremenko was the Vice-President of Advanced Technology at Motorola Mobility, which is where he started Project Ara. He continued to be the project head at Ara, while the company was still a subsidiary of Google. Although Google sold off the Motorola brand to Lenovo, it retained the project and Eremenko has been overseeing its development ever since. Paul Ermenenko counts MIT, Caltech and Georgetown University among his Alma Mater, and has also served as the Deputy Director and Acting Director of the Tactical Technology Office at DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), overseeing several advanced programs within the agency, relating to the development of military vehicles and aircrafts.
For the uninitiated, Project Ara is the codename for an open hardware platform initially started within Motorola, looking to develop modular smartphones, which would enable users to swap out parts of a smartphone that malfunctions or requires upgrade, rather than throwing out the entire device. If successful, this could potentially help reduce electronic waste, and result in long-term savings for the consumer. The first prototypes were shown off during Google I/O 2014 and the pilot testing is scheduled to begin in Puerto Rico later this year. Google aims to ‘democratize’ smartphone usage with the project, by lowering the entry barrier for consumers on the one hand and hardware manufacturers on the other. It says the device is designed to be used by 6 billion people worldwide, including current feature phone users and people not yet connected. Project Ara started off within the Advanced Technologies and Projects (ATAP) team, which was a part of Motorola Mobility before Google sold off the company to Lenovo in early 2014, whilst retaining the ATAP division, which has been the brains behind several projects alongside Ara, like Project Tango and the newly announced Project Soli and Project Jacquard among a bunch of other interesting new projects.