It was day 2 of the Project Ara developers’ conference, taking place at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA. After announcing yesterday that the first Project Ara “gray phone” will launch in January of 2015 for $50, Paul Eremenko, the project’s lead, once again took the stage to tell the crowd of more than 200 developers about an upcoming contest to help fuel Ara’s modular development.
The carrot comes in the form of a $100,000 grand prize and will be given to one lucky developer who comes up with the best module — judged on novelty, functionality, elegance, quality, impact, and commercialization potential — that can be employed in daily use. Two runner ups will be receiving all-expense paid trips for up to 3 people to the next Project Ara devcon and will be guaranteed hardware for their project.
After signing a hardware loan agreement, developers will need to submit descriptions of their module in order to be given a free package consisting of a Unipro bridge and filed-programmable gate arrays courtesy of Toshiba. Devs will need to come up with a functional form factor module (following the MDK’s guidelines), built around the prototype hardware. They will also be expected to create their own drivers and apps necessary for testing.
Following Google ATAP’s tight scheduling, the challenge will officially kick off in May (at which time Google will make available around 100-200 units of the protoype hardware to devs), drawing to a close in mid- September. This means there’s little time for prep work, but as Eremenko mentioned during an interview, “time pressure yields higher quality innovation.”