#7 Paul Eremenko, ATAP Director, Google
Having originally worked for DARPA, Eremenkohas brought Google’s module Project Arasmartphone from concept to pilot stage, following DARPA’s production ethos. The aim of Project Arais to create a fully customisable smartphone, with components that can be swapped in and out of the phone’s core (known as the endo) at will.
The ultimate aim is to create an app-like ecosystem for hardware, changing the upgrade cycle of phones in favour of swapping individual components. If the Puerto Rican pilot is successful, the product should launch in 2016.
Eremenko has previously encouraged the use of 3D-printed components to complement the customizable element to Project Ara, but 3D-printed elements have been pulled from the pilot launch at present. Part of the reason for this is to keep costs down. Project Ara’s current marketing angle is aimed at those who don’t have smartphones. The offering therefore needs to compete primarily with the budget end of the market. While modular phones are a fresh innovation, there are already competitors in the space. Start-up Fonkraft has showcased a similarly modular phone, but is unlikely to be an immediate competitor following problems with Indiegogo.