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3D Systems and Motorola Team Up To Deliver Customizable 3D Printed Smartphones

Unknown Lamer posted about 9 months ago | from the still-can't-get-one-with-a-keyboard dept.

Cellphones 12

MojoKid writes "Motorola is forging ahead with the concept of modular, customizable smartphones first put forth by designer Dave Hakkens with his Phonebloks concept. The company said recently that it was officially pursuing such an idea with Project Ara, and Motorola is already putting together important partnerships to make it happen. 3D Systems, a maker of 3D printers and other related products, has signed on to create a 'continuous high-speed 3D printing production platform and fulfillment system' for it. In other words, 3D Systems is going to print parts for the project, and what's more, the company has what appears to be an exclusive agreement to make all the enclosures and modules for Project Ara."

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Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45501181)

aww shit niggers

So, '5 years contract and $500' (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45501195)

So, it'll be $500 plus a 5 year contract or $1,500 and no contract? *Poking fun at normal smartphone terms*

Damn! What some of you people pay and agree to for your phones gives me the shivers! And money of you re-up everytime there's a new phone!

And this being "custom", I can only guess at the completely unreasonable terms (at least to me) that the cell phone companies will be demanding - and getting.

more then that (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 9 months ago | (#45501349)

you have X module and that one needs an 2+ year forced B plan.

You took the Y module with works all over the world so you need the world talk and data plan for 2 years.

Customize this! (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 9 months ago | (#45501357)

Just in case this isn't patented, I hereby create and release unto the world the idea of 3D printing custom covers, casings, designs, shrouds, and every manner of item, structural or facade or otherwise, as a feature of a product, including downloading and sharing of predesigned or customer-designed pieces, including the process of individualization such as engravings, monograms, and flourishes.

I don't want to have to pay extra or wait 27 or 22 years to use his obvious engineering and business process.

Re:Customize this! (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 9 months ago | (#45501367)

to use "this", not "his".

Re:Customize this! (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 9 months ago | (#45502339)

they'll patent but add some "connected to cloud" to it, so there.

it's not an exactly new idea actually - and arguably your pc is prior art, this is just smaller.

but what I would see making sense would be to have one soc-card that actually had all the radios, the soc, memory, antennas etc, and then as another part of the equation different shells - and have a small ultracapacitor or something on the soc card so that it would stay connected on it's own for a little while(and a little led that could signal if you have a missed call, if the battery tech in it allowed it to stay online for long enough for such a thing to make sense).

then the shells would have stuff like cameras, the screen, a large battery, possibly kb and so forth. that way you could slap it into a tablet, a laptop like thing or something psp like or gaming - and have different sized shells too. maybe the galaxy note sized shell to work and the teenyweeny small one when you're going out clubbing so it would fit into pocket right.

I sketched some pics about this few years back inspired by gibsons cyberdecks actually... for me this approach would have made more sense than the phonebloks approach(which in the original concepts put out too many parts out of each other, like parts that are integrated or ran by circuitry that is actually part of the soc and putting that as an extra peripheal makes no sense and would lead to a design that wastes battery). for me it would make total sense to have the cpu and radios as one piece because that's where chip integration is going(though integrated display driver circuitry makes this whole thing complicated to attain so that you don't lose battery life without need - however afaik even iphones displays have a datalink from the soc that is more akin to hdmi than directly running the screen so maybe it would be feasible).

just buying it pre-customized kinda defeats the whole phonebloks concept though, so dunno where this motorola project is going really.. and knowing moto even if they did it phonebloks style they would change the communications standard between the blocks every iteration(thought you could use that lapdock shell you bought couple of years ago with your current motorolas? hahaha of course not..).

Hope it works... (2)

mlts (1038732) | about 9 months ago | (#45501707)

I'm hoping that this concept can give phones that would be nice, but not intended for for the lowest common denominator. For example, it would be nice to have a decent landscape slider (the old Motorola Droid for example) with a quality hardware keyboard, and since sliders don't have to be extremely thin, this would allow for a better battery, higher resolution camera, or perhaps a decent amount of storage as well as a MicroSD card in an easy to insert place (so it would be easy to swap cards for nandroid backups.)

Of course, unlocked bootloaders go without saying.

Re:Hope it works... (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 9 months ago | (#45502057)

Hope what works? This looks like it's going to be limited to a customized case (you can have all the funny little bumps and squiggles and colors you want). I don't see this as enabling a slide out keyboard on a phone that isn't designed for same. You just can't mix and match random bits of electronics - you have to pass CE / UI / FCC and bog-knows-who-else certifications. Unless the manufacturer wants to create a modular whatzit (which they can do at present but don't seem to be much interested in) you can't just add or subtract 3D printed functionality.

Perhaps they're planning on small runs of semi custom phones, in which case 3D printing might be a useful technology, but I just don't see how this functionally (as opposed to cosmetically) changes things. Sandbenders anyone?

Re:Hope it works... (1)

ahem (174666) | about 9 months ago | (#45502179)

Maybe this could allow for different form factor customizations. Think about how the phone part that requires FCC certification is a small brick completely encased in the equivalent of faraday cage except for where the external antenna plugs in. Then, this mechanism could create whatever kind of case/IO devices/instruments/ports/plugins where the comm brick just sits inside. Then you can have a slideout and a standard ribbon cable connects it, and this slide out sits on the bottom of a chassis that also hosts the display, camera, speaker, microphone, port array and whatever else you want. Think like the electric skateboard that all the different Tesla models are built on top of. Roadster, sedan, crossover, SUV doesn't matter. it all sits on the same skateboard that holds the important stuff for making the car move. Also could think of it as application engine and front-end UI, except as written in hardware.

Re:Hope it works... (1)

iampiti (1059688) | about 9 months ago | (#45505743)

I'd like to see this succeed too but I'm not counting on it. For starters, it's going to be really difficult to make the blocks with the connectors to connect to other blocks and everything and that the result is not an ugly, bulky phone. Make no mistake, looks are important in the smartphone market. In addition, don't count either on having a microSD holder module: Motorola is now part of Google and the big G is pushing hard for the cloud and against microSD cards. To sum up, an interesting idea that I'd like to see realized but I'm not optimistic about it.

check this with proof (0)

Olivia Wood (3442129) | about 9 months ago | (#45502857)

==========ONLINE JOB========== my unmarried friend has twin toddlers and revamped $9k her 1st month. It feels therefore sensible creating abundant|such a lot|most} cash once others have to be compelled to work for thus much less. this is often what I do =======>> WWW.BLUE48.COM ==========ONLINE JOB==========

Gimmick (1)

Anti-Social Network (3032259) | about 9 months ago | (#45503317)

We've had stickers and such for decades. What we really need is a fully open-source phone hardware device, drivers and all. Sure, we've supposedly got Firefox OS working on that, but I've yet to see that they haven't taken the functionality and gone off the rails like their browser. As it stands, even my N900 can't fully get away from the binary blobs. I haven't a clue what I'm going to do when it finally dies.

Like the crowd-funded Truecrypt verification project, we need full access to the internals of our devices so we know they are actually serving the owners, rather than the corporate and government overlords. If they want to distribute free handsets, that's one thing, but if I buy my phone outright, I should have full control of it, carrier shenanigans be damned.

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