Google ATAP Reveals Project Ara Developer Kits and 100K Prize Challenge
Today, Paul Eremenko from Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects division announced a developer prize challenge and the upcoming availability of developer kits, which represent the Project Ara platform and enable developers to begin working on modules.
The developer boards will allow users to explore the Project Ara platform, and will include multiple reference “modules” on board so that hardware and software developers can begin to experiment with the platform–both in designing new modules and in getting existing software and Android OS running on the new devices.
The developer boards present an interesting opportunity for developers, as one of the primary challenges on this new modular Android system is how to get different modules working within the Linux kernel. A version of Android that is compatible with Ara platform will be released in mid-May.
To participate in the developer challenge, whose rules are still being finalized, you will send the Project Ara team an abstract of your proposed project. If approved, they will loan you the developer boards. Pricing was not mentioned during the presentation. The developer hardware should be available in small quantities in early May, and the prize challenge will close in early to mid-September.
There are actually three developer boards. The Ara processor, switch, and endpoint dev boards give potential module developers a way to simulate the endo before public release. Together, they represent an electronic model of the Project Ara system.
Also at the conference this morning, Janos Sztipanovits from Vanderbilt University introduced the Metamorphosys design toolset, which is a developer toolchain for designing modules for the Ara platform.
The winner of the prize challenge will receive $100k, and runners-up will receive a paid trip to the next Project Ara conference. Judging will be objective and qualitative, based on the novelty of the module, the functionality of the module, and potential impact. Some potential applications are in imaging, medical, and enviromental sensors. The Ara team hopes that this challenge will spurn even more development and generate new ideas.
Looking at the excitement in the conference room when the developer hardware was unveiled (complete with Google Security), we believe that there will be a high level of demand for this platform in the developer community.