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Old 01-08-2015, 01:09 AM   #1
Marseille
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Can E Ink Corp. Help You Build Your Own Ara eReader?

You may have heard of Project Ara, Google ATAP's modular phone. It went through two developer's conferences and two tech spirals last year in a surprisingly open development process. A lot of what we got to see usually happens behind closed doors. This month will be the third conference, and Google wants to sell its first devices this year, though it would be a 'limited market pilot' at first.

There are long form articles posted in the top item in this FAQ: http://www.projectara.com/faq/ Some are a bit old (fortune is the newest in August), but they all do a good job of explaining what Ara is and how it came to be. Basically you can build your own phone and pick your own processor, storage options, battery capacity, cameras and peripherals, and upgrade any one without having to upgrade the entire device. Some modules are hot swappable, so you can flip in, for example, a fully charged battery module to replace a drained one on the go (no power down needed). Screens are also modules, and thus the reason for this post.



Ara probably won't succeed without market demand. Google has big partners unlike a lot of modular programs out there you might hear about. Toshiba, NVIDIA, Marvell, Rockchip, Quanta, etc are all on board, and that's important. And they've also sought to develop smaller partners worldwide with these development conferences. But I don't see marketing budgets like Samsung's or Apple's ever coming to bear here. This will be more democratic. It will succeed or fail depending on demand from users. Diversity of modules may depend on how active users are. This post is for anyone who might want to build, not just a phone, but any mobile device, to their own tastes.

As we're all readers here, I'm asking you to tweet at E Ink and ask them to support @ProjectAra so we can all build our own eReaders, independent of any one store front. So we can use our own readerware, news readers, browsers. So we can keep audiobooks, podcasts and music on board and do TTS. So we can choose a size of eReader that suits us. So we can choose our own battery capacity or make our dedicated eReader a little less dedicated and more multiuse if we so please.

If you're interested, please tweet to E Ink at https://twitter.com/EInk that you want them to make an eink screen for @ProjectAra and post below to let me know if you do. Feel free to ask questions here if you're curious about Ara.
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Old 01-08-2015, 05:52 AM   #2
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I read about these devices a few years ago (probably not google),
they are really exciting from a ecological footprint point of view,

instead of throw away the entire phone, to upgrade you simply swap the cpu module with a newer one, if you damage the phone you simply swap the damaged module,

these devices are the future, I hope they will make it to the market,

I say I hope because a manufacturer has not an interest in an upgradable device,
you can see it from the absurd techniques they are exploiting to make the repairability of our gadgets impossible...
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Old 01-08-2015, 03:51 PM   #3
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In addition to reducing waste, it's a dream for people who need particular mobile tech but can't afford the best. For example you might have a Moto E budget but need an S5 camera. With Ara, you can build that device.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hola!claude View Post
these devices are the future, I hope they will make it to the market,

I say I hope because a manufacturer has not an interest in an upgradable device,
you can see it from the absurd techniques they are exploiting to make the repairability of our gadgets impossible...
I hope so as well, and I'm certainly not taking it for granted. However there are certain types of manufacturers that would love to have access to this market -- those that can't make an entire phone but will manufacture the upgrades people will install. If you specialize in a piece of hardware you ordinarily sell to phone makers like Samsung and Apple, this opens up a new market to sell direct to consumers. If you're small and couldn't possibly produce and distribute your own phone, an Ara market is a dream.

Google will be the sole maker of the endoskeletons that all the parts plug into, using Quanta (IIRC) to do the actual manufacturing. Three chipset builders have already signed up, and Nvidia is bringing their super fast K1 to the party. There will be a market test, I'm almost sure of that at this stage given how much work ATAP has done, not just on the device, but on community and partner engagement. Whether it will succeed or fizzle (and whether I myself will ever be able to get one) is harder to be sure of.
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Old 01-08-2015, 05:53 PM   #4
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i'd be very interested in a device like this, but i'm not about to sign up to twitter just to say "yeah, this looks cool". can someone else tweet twice in that case?

i'm glad that Apple isn't making the core of it, though! GO GOOGLE!
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Old 01-08-2015, 08:40 PM   #5
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There are a few other networks you can use here if you're so inclined: http://www.eink.com/contact_us.html I wouldn't use the email address there though, it directs to a PR firm.

I read a few days ago that EInk had a bigger hand in the yotaphone2 (a dual screened device with an EInk screen on the back) than as merely a supplier, though I'm not sure what that role was. That combined with their showing at CES tells me they really want to expand their presence. Customer feedback isn't guaranteed to ever filter to decision makers, but for a company actively seeking new markets, it just might.
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Old 01-12-2015, 06:51 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marseille View Post
In addition to reducing waste, it's a dream for people who need particular mobile tech but can't afford the best. For example you might have a Moto E budget but need an S5 camera. With Ara, you can build that device.
Very true and you can also gradually upgrade the phone.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Marseille View Post
If you're small and couldn't possibly produce and distribute your own phone, an Ara market is a dream.
Yes it would be a dream for the small factories, but if they were alone they would never make it to the market,
the fact that google is behind this product gives it more chances to succeed.

This would be my dream device, I already tweeted!
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Old 01-12-2015, 08:59 PM   #7
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I can see why Google would be behind this. They're not in the business of making hardware. They just want to spread android far and wide and make it affordable. This will be good for consumers.
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Old 01-14-2015, 04:51 AM   #8
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With a modular platform, you can pick the camera you want for your phone rather than picking your phone for the camera. You could have a sensor to test if water is clean. You could have a battery that lasts for days. A really awesome speaker. A gamer phone. Or it could even be your car key. The possibilities are limitless. --

This is customizing to a whole new level. I like this. If this gets released soon, I'll be looking forward for the reviews.
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Old 01-14-2015, 09:04 PM   #9
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Today was a big day for Ara (see #AraDev or http://liliputing.com/2015/01/projec...ar-phones.html). The big news is they've picked their first market pilot: Puerto Rico. I didn't notice anything on the date other than later this year. I suspect there will be plenty of reviews once that happens, though it'll be an interesting product to review since it isn't phone, it's an ecosphere. There will be bundles for people who don't want to choose, or people like me can browse the Ara Module Market for each piece, so my Ara will be very different from yours. It remains to be seen just how many different builds could be designed.

If you're interested, now's the time to tell a manufacturer (eink or otherwise) to get involved and make modules you'll want to use. People used to rave about Nokia cameras with carl zeiss optics. Maybe you want audio from beats or a wacom stylus or a fingerprint scanner from synaptics. Tell those companies. They don't know what you want and Ara might not be on their radar without your input.
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Old 01-15-2015, 08:27 AM   #10
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Does anyone know of a more legitimate way to contact them than the "contact us" option on their site?
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Old 01-16-2015, 12:25 AM   #11
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I'm not sure what you mean by more legitimate, but I don't have any additional contact methods.

I've attached a few more Ara photos out of the Conference yesterday.The first two are medium sized 3x6 endos just showing off how individualized the aesthetics can be with the second baring a little bit of the endo itself so you can see what the slots look like and how they attach. The last is a small 2x5 endo beside the medium for size comparison.

The smallest is very, very small. I have a blackberry flip phone that's bigger than it is while closed. The medium endo is about the size of an iphone 5 or close to the size of the 2013 moto x. A recent screen for it had a 4.5" diagonal, but you should understand different screen modules can have different measurements because they may have different bezels and aspect ratios. The large 4x7 endo is closer to the galaxy notes or the iphone 6 plus, but I've never seen it in the wild, only in illustrations or renders (see OP attachments).
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Old 01-18-2015, 06:06 AM   #12
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I would totally be on board for an Ara device with eInk. One of the main reasons I got my nook was to root it. This way, can do all I want with out hassle.
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Old 01-18-2015, 03:08 PM   #13
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My wife was sold on thet easy screen replacement when you break it.

I see much potential in this, but Google has to be ready to stray away from their current fixed 'endoskeleton' formfactor.

Hell, yes, we want an eInk display; but a 7" display would be preferable. I can use industrial and clinical applications for this system, but one needs to be able to assemble a device in non-traditional (if one can all it that-- right now there is only the one frame) ways.
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Old 01-18-2015, 04:43 PM   #14
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You understand there are three different sized endos as of now, right? (see pictures in posts 1 and 11, and size descriptions in 11) And the Puerto Rico market pilot isn't supposed to start until the second half of 2015. It's very easy to imagine additional factors being added if the first three find success.

Three sizes is a pretty ambitious start to something this subversive. In a world where the ability to replace a battery is often abandoned to make a device 1mm thinner, this is almost heretical.
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Old 01-18-2015, 04:54 PM   #15
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It is an auspicious start.
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