Facebook foraying into Google Ara’s territory with new modular phone project

Google Ara was an exciting concept which introduced the idea of commercializing modular phones. Although the project never materialized, Facebook is breathing life into it as per a new patent application filed by the company. The patent is simply described as a “modular electromechanical device” which would come with a display, GPS, and a microphone module.

A large portion of the Google Ara team has seemingly joined Building 8, which is responsible for this new secretive Facebook project. The four members named on Facebook’s patent application were involved with Nascent Objects, which is a firm that the company acquired only last year. Nascent Objects specialized in producing modular hardware using 3D printing.

It’s anybody’s guess as to what the company will actually end up producing, but all hints point at a revival of the Project Ara concept under Facebook’s umbrella. Google shelved the Ara concept last year, owing to a variety of reasons, including the delay in its release. Google also had to get rid of some features that proved to be challenging, ultimately resulting in the project’s demise. 

Building 8 is currently working on several interesting projects in its labs, including the ability to comprehend languages through human skin and being able to type using just your mind. Facebook has invested heavily in these futuristic projects. Machine learning is another area where Facebook is heavily focused on, which includes improving existing camera tech. 

This new modular concept could extend beyond Google Ara’s initial approach, though. Facebook’s patent filing talks about how this could be used for modular speakers and other components. So it’s clear that the company isn’t putting all its eggs in one basket.

We hope to learn more about the new modular project from Facebook over the coming months. However, since it’s still only a patent listing, we might have to wait a while before the idea is publicly discussed by the company.