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One of the most exciting initiatives in tech is Google’s Project Ara, an effort to build a consumer-friendly and customizable modular smartphone. Headed up by Google’s Advanced Projects and Technology, or ATAP, Project Ara will feature an online marketplace similar to the Google Play Store where users can buy new bits and pieces for their smartphones – and new details about how the marketplace will work, as well as a new module-provider, have hit the web today.

A post on 9to5Google reports that Google will be taking a harder look at module providers for its marketplace than it does for the Play Store, mainly so it can ensure that all modules comply with Google’s specifications and regulations, as outlined in its newest version of the Module Developers Kit, currently marked as the MDK 0.2.

The regulations outlined in MDK 0.2, of course, are designed to ensure that the Ara smartphone actually works, while also complying with FCC regulations. Software doesn’t need to be regulated quite so closely, but new hardware components have the potential to drastically change the way a device functions. In October, Google had to temporarily pull the Nexus Player from its online store because it had failed to properly obtain approval from the FCC. Most electronic devices have to pass muster with regulatory agencies all over the world, so it stands to reason that Google is taking extra precautions to make sure that no modules squeak through on its marketplace that could bring trouble with the law.

On that note, however, a company called Vestigen has been revealed as the latest partner to start working on Project Ara modules. As described on the Phonebloks Blog, Vestigen is a biomedical technology company based in Slovakia, and has plans to produce a module that may share functions with one of its current products – a portable device that allows users to “analyze various types of fluids such as blood, water or food.”

That’s only a little creepy – until you realize the implications that such analytical powers might hold for everyday Ara users. The ability to analyze substances could prove to be a vital tool for those with diabetes or other medical issues, or could simply be used for those looking to understand and track what they eat or drink on a given day. From a scientific standpoint, a module like this could also possibly be used for those looking to learn more about the world around them.

In short, it’s exciting to hear about companies like Vestigen jumping onboard with Project Ara. It means that other companies who make interesting devices may help Ara handsets become some of the most versatile devices around. Hopefully Google will offer a clearer roadmap for how it intends to release Ara in the coming weeks.

[Sources: 9to5Google, Phonebloks Blog]


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