If you ask Paul Eremenko, head of Google’s Project Ara, what excites him the most about the experimental modular phone, he’ll tell you it’s the opportunity for developing life-changing personal technologies.
During Engadget’s Engage conference, the former deputy director of DARPA opened up about the projects within Ara he’s most passionate about, including health care tech. Fiddling with a rough prototype of the Ara phone, he attached a square module to the top of the phone. A dot of red light immediately flared up on the attachment, and Eremenko instructed his interviewer Brad Molen to press his finger to the module.
The module is a prototype of a pulse oximeter, which measures oxygen content in the blood. Eremenko thinks that devices like Ara could be a central hub for small medical devices like the pulse oximeter, and the phone itself a repository for your health data. He also thinks that Project Ara holds a huge opportunity for accessing crowd sourced data patterns.
Already mobile phones hold an inordinate amount of information about their owners. But with devices like the oximeter and other health data-collecting sensors in the works, it’s only a matter of time before a mobile phone holds highly detailed medical histories — a combination of your diet, workout regimen, and doctor’s visits.
But there’s still another year’s worth of development to do before we can see a meaningful rollout of project Ara. Details on when consumers will be able to get their hands on this device are scant, though Eremenko said, “we do intend to do a consumer pilot later in 2015.” He says Google will make an announcement about the actual release date at the company’s Project Ara developer conference in January.