Generally “open source” is used for software such as Linux and Android. However, Motorola is applying this concept to hardware design as part of an initiative called Project Ara. Project Ara is a “a free, open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones.”
Ara is considered a combination between Legos and Android. Think of it like this: there is a Bluetooth brick, a battery brick, a camera brick, etc. The components are looked at as easily replaced pieces that can be configured.
Another company that applies a similar concept is Phonebloks. Phonebloks designed a similar modular system to replace broken parts yourself. Motorola and Phonebloks made a collaborative partnership for Project Ara.
Here is what Motorola wrote in a blog post:
“We?ve been working on Project Ara for over a year. Recently, we met Dave Hakkens, the creator of Phonebloks. Turns out we share a common vision: to develop a phone platform that is modular, open, customizable, and made for the entire world. We?ve done deep technical work. Dave created a community. The power of open requires both. So we will be working on Project Ara in the open, engaging with the Phonebloks community throughout our development process, as well as asking questions to our Project Ara research scouts (volunteers interested in helping us learn about how people make choices). In a few months, we will also send an invitation to developers to start creating modules for the Ara platform (to spice it up a bit, there might be prizes!). We anticipate an alpha release of the Module Developer?s Kit (MDK) sometime this winter.”