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Google challenges users - to build their own smart phone

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 30th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Since smart phones quickly go out of date for sleeker, more capable models, discarded phones have become an new environmental problem. Addressing these concerns is Internet search engine giant Google who is now offering a creative solution. Google-owned Motorola announced this week "Project Ara," which will create a "free, open hardware platform for creating highly modular smart phones"

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Motorola says the goal is simple. Project Ara will "give you the power to decide what your phone does, how it looks, where and what it's made of, how much it costs, and how long you'll keep it."

A large, growing stream of waste from discarded phones is a growing problem. One handset maker hopes a new kind of phone will stem the tide and offer users more flexibility.

The phones will reportedly be built around an "endoskeleton," which will provide the basic frame. Thew user then can snap in different modules.

"A module can be anything, from a new application processor to a new display or keyboard, an extra battery, a pulse oximeter -- or something not yet thought of," Motorola says.

Ara recently partnered with Phonebloks, a pioneer in build-your-own-phones.

"We want to do for hardware what the Android platform has done for software: create a vibrant third-party developer ecosystem, lower the barriers to entry, increase the pace of innovation, and substantially compress development timelines," Motorola said the post.

Developers will be invited shortly to start creating modules by releasing the first version of a module developer's kit.

Over 129 million mobile devices were discarded in 2009 in the United States alone, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Americans discard 130 million cell phones every year and most end up in landfills or incinerators - only eight percent are recycled safely.

When unwanted cell phones are land-filled, these chemicals leach into groundwater; when they are incinerated, the toxics contaminate the air. Some states ban electronics from landfills and incinerators, but currently, 32 states have no such ban.

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