By klee

Google IO: Google kicks off Project Ara developer challenge, researches 3D printer tech

Google has announced many, many things already at its developer conference and the search company still has projects left over on the docket including Project Ara.

SlashGear reports Google has challenged developers to come up with a smartphone module that does not exist in today’s preassembled devices. Hair brained ideas are welcome but the Mountain View is looking for new, never before seen parts that plug and play with its modular phone of the future.

On top of bragging rights, the first to engineer a working module will get $100K (about £58,732/AU$106,216) as the grand prize. There’s also room for two runner ups who will win shoo-in invites to the next Ara developer event currently on track for this fall.

Google’s magic phone factory

Don’t think Google is just going to crowd source the development of Project Ara going forward. While the developers work on their add-ons Google announced it’s figuring out a new, super-speed 3D printer production system to spit out customized modules.

Google touts its personal 3D printer is 50x faster than a traditional 3D printer. Like an advanced copy machine, this printer can fabricate three-dimensional parts made of multiple types of materials.

To finish off the modules machine also prints 600-dpi color images applying them like a vinyl onto the modular parts.

Next generation phones

While the printer can already produce parts, Google is looking into how to pack even more components into its platform modules. In another research project the company is looking to create longer lasting battery packs that can extend the operational time of our devices by up to three times.

In the future search company expects that it eventually be able to create electrical elements such as the antennas using 3D printing.

To support all this modular magic Google plans to release a prototype version of Android this fall – which could ultimately mean developer devices by next season, hopefully.

  • Meet Android One, Google’s other big plan for smartphones