Project Ara delayed because prototypes couldn’t survive a drop test

Project Ara

Over the last week and a bit we’ve had a trickle of information regarding Google’s ambitious project to create a modular smartphone. Codenamed Project Ara, the initiative was initially set to launch as a pilot in Puerto Rico later this year, but it was late last week and early into this week that we learned that Google had delayed the pilot into 2016 and moved it to the United States.

At the time, no reason was given for the delay, but thanks to a new series of tweets from the Project Ara team, it’s now a lot clearer why Google decided to push back the project. It turns out that the electropermanent magnets Google designed to hold together its prototype smartphones didn’t pass muster. Specifically, they failed when it came time to do the ever important drop test.

The Twitter account doesn’t mention exactly how the magnets fail when dropped, but it’s likely that the modules they’re supposed to hold in place eject when forced to go through an impact. One of the advantages of an electropermanent magnet is that it can be switched on and off with an electrical charge, but doesn’t require one to stay in place. However, it seems that connection isn’t strong to hold together a multi-part phone.

Aside from the fact that it will use a “signature system” to attach and detach modules, the Project Ara Twitter account doesn’t mention what material or mechanism it will use to replace the electropermanent system. That said, it’s likely the resulting product will look significantly different from what we’ve seen so far.

[source]Twitter[/source][via]Android Police[/via]