Ara, huh? Or a modular smartphone of the future

    At the end of January, a Google conference dedicated to Project Ara was held in Singapore.

    Fans of designers will be interested to know about the fresh state of the project, and I will remind the rest of the readers that Project Google Ara (I did not think of a name) is a modular smartphone of the future, in which the user chooses components not only by cost, but also by functionality.

    The work of the smartphone of the future with a radiation measurement module.

    Conference topics: current status of Project Ara, plans to enter the market for Ara modular smartphone, changing the Spiral hardware platform, management and design software, presentation of development modules, developer support program, sales channels for the smartphone and modules for it.

    We attended the conference as officially recognized developers of our own DO-RA.Module device.

    Next, in order.

    In mid-December, we received from Google a development KIT (Ara smartphone motherboard).

    Spiral -1 Modular Smartphone Development Kit. From left to right - processor module, hub, I2C-gateway.

    The hardest part was to correctly connect the wires to the hub. As normal programmers, did not begin to read manuals. On the move, nothing worked.

    I had to read and twist 12 wires out of 16. Twisting BNC connectors was the most difficult task in mastering Spiral. Everything else is much simpler. All the rest is to start with the test sensor (the heart rate sensor was attached) the whole system. Then we replaced the test sensor with a DO-RA sensor and rewrote the software for our I2C protocol.

    A piece of code with three comments
    import android.content.Context;
    import android.hardware.I2cManager;
    import android.hardware.I2cTransaction;
    import android.os.Handler;
    import android.util.Log;
    import java.util.concurrent.Executors;
    import java.util.concurrent.ScheduledExecutorService;
    import java.util.concurrent.TimeUnit;
    public class Sensor {
        // The 7-bit slave address
        private static final int address = 0x11;
        private static final String bus = "/dev/i2c-4";
        private Context context;
        private I2cManager i2c;
        private Handler handler;
        private ScheduledExecutorService executor = Executors.newScheduledThreadPool(1);
    // Описание транзакций чтения данных
        private static final I2cTransaction[] totalCountRead = {
        private static final I2cTransaction[] radiatoinRead = {
    // Получаем системный сервис
        public Sensor(Context context, Handler handler) {
            this.context = context;
            this.i2c = (I2cManager)context.getSystemService("i2c");
            this.handler = handler;
        private I2cTransaction[] execute(I2cTransaction[] txns) {
            I2cTransaction[] results;
            try {
                results = null;
                for (I2cTransaction txn: txns)
                    results = i2c.performTransactions(bus, address, txn);
            } catch (IOException e) {
                throw new RuntimeException("I2C error: " + e);
            return results;
        public void start() {
            executor.scheduleAtFixedRate(collector, 500, 500, TimeUnit.MILLISECONDS);
        public void stop() {
            try {
                executor.awaitTermination(500, TimeUnit.MILLISECONDS);
            } catch (InterruptedException e) {
                assert false;
    // Разбираем результат, пришедший от датчика
        private final Runnable collector = new Runnable() {
            public void run() {
                I2cTransaction[] results;
                byte[] data;
                results = execute(totalCountRead);
                data = results[0].data;
                int count = (((int)data[1] & 0xFF) <<  8) |
                        (((int)data[0] & 0xFF) <<  0);
                results = execute(radiatoinRead);
                data = results[0].data;
                int radiation = (((int)data[1] & 0xFF) <<  8) |
                        (((int)data[0] & 0xFF) <<  0);
                Log.d("DORA", "count =" + count + " radiation = " + radiation);
                handler.obtainMessage(0, count, radiation).sendToTarget();

    And with all this compact system we flew to Singapore.

    So, we brought to Singapore three working modules DO-RA.Module-1, 2, 3, differing from each other only in dimensions: 39x17x7 mm, 27x17x7 mm, and the most compact of them is 18x18x3.5 mm.

    In the photo for the scale of products there was a quarter (25 cents), but someone stole it.
    Draw the quarter mentally in the upper right corner.

    We also have DO-RA.Soft software for the Android platform to manage our own module for analyzing the radiation situation and measuring the excess ionizing radiation around us. These modules can be mounted in various electronic devices for monitoring and signaling the level of radiation in the environment.

    The conference was opened by the head of Project Ara, Paul Eremenko, who flew here from the United States.

    Glavkosmos , banned on Habré until 2016 and Paul Eremenko.

    Over the course of the conference, about two dozen reports were made from the leaders and developers of Project Ara, manufacturers of electronics and software, in particular: Toshiba, Marvell, Foxconn Interconnect, Quanta Computer, Synopsys, IDT on the topics discussed. The information provided was useful, now we understand in detail the essence of the Ara project and, I hope, keep up with key players and developers of Ara modules, without lagging behind the device design and software.

    It seems to us that a modular smartphone is so far more exotic and partly a research project for understanding user preferences, the hidden essence of which is perhaps identifying the most interesting modular designs for future smartphones. It is possible that in the near future the most outstanding electronic modules for our lives will become the standard for the smartphone industry and will be installed as standard components in all new smartphones. So at one time the photo camera for the phone was at first exotic, and now they plan to put several photo / video cameras on one smartphone.

    In terms of the openness of the platform for developers, Google performed a miracle by opening its platform for free and equipping all interested developers with development tools and programs. For example, a couple of years ago, to participate in a similar development, the same Qualcomm could ask the developer for an ordinary developer license for its chipsets up to $ 3 million. Feel the difference ?!

    At a conference in Singapore, it was announced that from January 25, 2015, the accredited Ara project developers will be provided with the new Spiral-2 platform with MDK 0.2, which has a large number of interfaces and technical capabilities, and in the second quarter of 2015 Spiral-3 will be released MDK 0.5. By the end of the year, Google as part of Project Ara plans to release a pilot project of a workable modular smartphone with 20-30 modules that have passed technical tests and certification. It is assumed that the test volume of modular smartphones, about 50 thousand units, will be released by the end of this year. And the testing zone was chosen by Puerto Rico, where the maximum percentage of smartphones is among the population, widespread Internet penetration and the American standards for cellular communication operators.

    Regarding the Google prize of $ 100K for the development of the most outstanding module for the Ara smartphone, it was noted that due to technical delays in the supply of Spiral-1 and Spiral-2, the application for participation in the competition was extended until March 1, videos on module development should be submitted before April 15, summing up the competition for the best module for Ara will be held until May 1, 2015.

    Of the real components for the Ara smartphone, a Vestigen module from Slovakia was also presented at the conference. The announced module allows you to do rapid analyzes of the composition of liquid media, including a blood test and, in particular, to control the level of insulin.

    The results of the conference for Intersoft Eurasia:

    1. Reliable information on the current status of Project Ara / Google was obtained directly from its developers and ideologists, which allows you to synchronize plans for the development and commercialization of DO-RA.Module for the modular Ara smartphone.

    2. Direct contacts were established with the Project Ara leader, Mr. Paul Eremenko and his team, as well as with manufacturers of components for advanced modules for the Ara smartphone, represented by representatives of companies: Toshiba, Marvell, Foxconn, Quanta Computer, etc.

    Thank you for your attention.

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