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DevCon2: Project Ara Developers Conference 2015 Roundup

Updated on April 10, 2015

Project Ara was developed by Paul Eremenko. Although, the project falls under Regina Dugan, who runs Google's Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) organization.

DevCon is Google ATAP Annual conference for developers that started in 2014. Before we look at this year, let’s recap last year’s highlights.

Note: All images in this article are taken from Project Ara’s official website.

Project Ara DevCon-I (2014)


DevCon1, the first Ara developers conference was held at the computer history museum in California. More than 3000 developers signed up for this conference (April 15-16).

An announcement stated that they’re targeting a $50 modular phone in 2015.

Figure 1: The content written on Project Ara's official website’s homepage.
Figure 1: The content written on Project Ara's official website’s homepage. | Source

Project Ara DevCon-II

Regina Dugan, Google’s Vice President initiated the conference from Mountain View, California.
She gave an overview of the following.

  • History of semiconductors,
  • The layers added in software ecosystem,
  • How App store came into existence,
  • Some worldwide innovations by scientists and students,
  • The changes in the industry and the importance of platform and giving the freedom to people of free tools.

For more speed and participants, better tools are required. Here virtualization of the design-build task and redesign cycle is the key.

Prof Olivier de Weck, professor at MIT initiated the conference from Singapore with the theory of modularity. He gave examples and discussed some key questions under modularity.

Here, before moving further under modularity, some questions are listed here asked by users and scholars.

The model is discussed here, the potential users who want to join this platform is on the left and the developers community is on the right. This model says that the more modules, the more attractive the module becomes for users and more developers would join the market.

The definition of Module was discussed. The key thing discussed here is that in the long term modularity can be an enabler for better servicing, evolution and upgrading of the product, instead of throwing the product when you don’t need it.

After this, Prof Olivier discussed about:

  • Style and metrics of modularity,
  • Modularity Analysis,
  • Principles of modularity
  • Sample of ARA configurations
  • Future works on Module Ara configurations

Definition of module
Definition of module | Source
Model of the Two-Sided Ara market.
Model of the Two-Sided Ara market.

Moving ahead

From that, the progress was then presented by Paul Eremenko from Google. The project objectives are to make many people part of it all over the world.

He stated their model status from 2013 to 2015 i.e. from Spiral 0 to Market Pilot.

Project Ara’s path from 2013 to 2015.
Project Ara’s path from 2013 to 2015.

Module Developers Kit (MDK)

MDK Overview was discussed by Ara Knaian from NK Labs & Dexter Yeh from Quanta at Mountain View.
Ara Knaian talked about the hardware platform as shown below. We will not go into the depth of hardware.

  • Spiral 2 Endo innards
  • Module attach using EPM
  • Spiral 1: EPM’s in module
  • Spiral 2: EPM’s into endo
  • Spiral 2: EPM test results
  • Spiral 2: Front module EPM latch
  • Contactless media converter
  • Spiral 3 integrated connector

Deter discussed the reference design.

  • Spiral 2 reference implementation.
  • AP module reference design.
  • 3G module reference design.
  • Pollution sensor reference design.

Dexter Yeh from Quanta Computer Inc
Dexter Yeh from Quanta Computer Inc

UNIPRO and GREYBUS

Marti Bolivar from LeafLabs started with why UniPro introduced, and then proceeded further with its usage. UniPro is for bidirectional connections for data transfer.

Greg Kroah-Hartman (Linux kernel developer) defined GreyBus, which is an application layer for UniPro.


Here the implemented and in-progress classes are listed.
Here the implemented and in-progress classes are listed.

Android Framework

Android was a hot topic in Google I/O 2014, and here George Grey discussed the role of Android Framework.

Android changes In progress
Android changes In progress

SPIRAL 2

Spiral 2 Developer Hardware was discussed by Seth Newburg (NK Labs) & Dexter Yeh (Quanta) at Mountain View.

Form Factor Prototype Demo was discussed by David Fishman (Google) & Dexter Yeh (Quanta) at Mountain View.

The differences between Spiral 1 and Spiral 2 hardware were also discussed here.
The differences between Spiral 1 and Spiral 2 hardware were also discussed here.
Prototype demonstrated here.
Prototype demonstrated here.

For Developers

Anil Rachakonda from Google initiated the conference for developers at Mountain View. He started with the challenge given to Developers with incentives. The motive behind this challenge was to involve more participants into Project Ara.

Shardul Kazi from Toshiba started initiated his presentation with Toshiba reference design development plan.

UFS storage module overview by Michael Wud from Phison USA.

Fred Van Rens from Innolux discussed about the input and output of Project Ara. He discussed some details regarding the devices to be manufactured till June 2015.

Prof Drew Hall from University of Claifornia discussed:

  • Mobile as part of healthcare (mHealth).
  • Reusing phone, batteries.
  • Reusing the phone for data analysis.
  • Using sensors with Ara device.
  • Plugging the sensors using Audio Jack.
  • For Example, customised disposable test chips for particular diseases.

By using these, a wide variety of diseases can be checked. The platform technology comes with different disposable test chips.

David Wang from Sunny Opotech provides optical components.

Benefits of project Ara in healthcare department using disposable chips were dicussed by Alxander Krisko from Vestigen. These chips check for molecule in liquid, results of blood samples, test strips for heart disease-for diabetic patients.

Roshni Srinivasan from Google detailed about Module Testing at Mountain View.

Started at Mountain View by Ted Bapty with description stating Metamorphoses, its goals and other details.

The platform technology with different disposable test chips.

The question/answer round started under “Developer Lightning” Round.
The question/answer round started under “Developer Lightning” Round.

Market Pilot

Roshni Srinivasan from Google gave an in-depth rollout about what customer needs and what Ara has done for customers.

  • The consumer loves options.
  • Customer support teams helping troubleshooting for consumers as well as module developers.
  • Their development partner Ingram.
  • How Payments would be done.
  • Support: Tier 1 support team for email, chat and phone call in English or Spanish.
  • Data Flow

Ravi Shah and Jason Chua from Google gave a thorough insight into the marketplace for Ara with its Configurator.

Jessi Beavers (Google) at Singapore showed complete coverage on why Puerto Rico was selected with some dazzling packaging concepts launched for Ara device.

The reason of selecting Puerto Rico.
The reason of selecting Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico statistics for user base.
Puerto Rico statistics for user base.
Kits for users.
Kits for users.
Different packaging concepts for Ara device.
Different packaging concepts for Ara device.
Other packaging designs for Ara device.
Other packaging designs for Ara device.

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