Motorola (now a Google company), has recently revealed Project Ara led by its Advanced Technology and Projects group. This project aims to create a free and open hardware platform for modular smartphones, that allow users to swap any and every component a smartphone has.
Motorola hopes that Project Ara will also create a viable third-party manufacturer (for parts or modules) eco-system, much like how Android has a thriving third-party developer eco-system. This, the company feels, would "drive a more thoughtful, expressive, and open relationship between users, developers, and their phones."
In concept, it's very much like DIY PCs, where you can swap faulty or obsolete parts out and still have the machine continue to work. However, instead of a motherboard, the the current design for Project Ara hardware comprises an endoskeleton (endo), and several modules.
The endo serves as the devices' structural frame, which holds the modules -- which can be anything from a battery to a camera -- together. This design allows users to dictate exactly what components they want in their phones, or how much they cost.
It can also potentially extend your device's lifepspan by several folds, as components are separate from each other. Replacing a cracked display or a faulty battery is as easy as swapping out its module, and can be done easily by the user.
Motorola's Project Ara team also met with the creator of Phonebloks (which has essentially the same concept), that has a sizable community of interested users, but lacks the deep technical abilities that Motorola has. Project Ara plans to engage Phoneblock's sizable community to gather consumer insights that will help with the ongoing project.
Users who are interested in providing feedback and help shape the direction of Project Ara, can sign up to be a Project Ara Research Scout here.