Toshiba, Gujarat based Einfochips to develop chips for Google’s Ara modules


Techno major Toshiba in collaboration with Gujarat-based Einfochips will provide chips for Google’s revolutionary modular smartphone project, ‘Ara’, a senior company executive said here today.

“Google is designing modular smartphones in which different modules can be assembled as one smart-phone,” said senior vice president and chief technology officer, Toshiba, USA, Shardul Kazi.

“Toshiba will make chips which can be used in modules and in the base plate, and will give idea on what kind of modules can be developed,” Kazi said.

Those chips will be developed in partnership with Einfochips, the executive said, adding the Gujarat-based company will also verify the chips.

On ‘Ara’, Kazi said consumers can make their own smartphone as per their demands or can upgrade it with new features they like to set in the modular phone.

Kazi said the modular phone has a skeleton or a base-plate body, where consumer can set required hardware applications in the form of a magnetic ship module.

Two versions of phones have been already developed, which include Spiral-one and Spiral-two, Kazi said.

Spiral-one and two have been made available for the module developers, while Spiral-3 will be made available for consumers.

Project Ara’s Spiral-3 will be introduced on pilot basis in Caribbean island country Puerto Rico.

When asked about the price of the modular phones, Kazi said, “Price will be fixed by Google. However, different modules will be ranging from USD 50 to 5,000.”

He said the cost can be cut to make it affordable for consumers.

Founder and CEO of Einfochips Pratul Shrof said the new product will open up innovation to the world, which will work as per requirements of different countries.

“The phones will be used as a platform on which one can do next generation design. Hardware application revolution will (be) combined with the software mobile apps in modular phones,” said Shrof.

Shrof said the hardware applications will work just as software apps which are currently being used in smartphones.

This will work on android-based platform and modules have magnetic connection, which can be set into the slide-base of the phone, he said.

The company is likely to introduce ‘start-up’ kit for the module developers in India in next few weeks, he said.

This will also give an opportunity to small companies and individuals to design and innovate new modules, added Shrof.

Google Project Ara

Google Project Ara is designed to build Modular Smartphones that would allow end users to create their own smartphones. For developers, accelerating development on Google Project Ara is integral to win market share. ARTOS12 Development Kit is a product of the collaboration between Toshiba America Electronic Components Inc. (TAEC) and eInfochips for 1×2 Google Ara modules that use Toshiba’s bridge chip technology.

ARTOS12 Development Kit features MicroSD and USB slots enabling developers to store data and interface to external devices. Optional interfaces including UART, I2C, I2S, SPI, and GPIO on 1X2 modules can be supported with Toshiba T6WR6XBG general-purpose bridge. The development kit includes USB drivers, quick start documentation and a high-speed interface for connection to the application processor bridge.

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