Motorola confirms Moto X; will be built in Texas

Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside confirmed Wednesday at D11 that Motorola will introduce the Moto X smartphone later this year, calling it a “hero” device that the Google-owned company hopes will make Motorola relevant once again. The device will also be built in the U.S. just outside of Fort Worth, Tex., in what Woodside called “a first.”

The Moto X is “more contextually aware of what’s going on around it,” Woodside said, teasing attendees by saying he’s carrying the phone in his pocket but declining to show it off. Other products are coming later, but expect this device to be the centerpiece of Motorola’s strategy this fall. Reports have been circulating for some time about the “X” project inside Motorola but this is the first time the company has confirmed it.

The smartphone industry is famously concentrated in China, where low-cost manufacturing and a lot of specialized factories and suppliers have set up shop. Motorola will assemble 70 percent of the Moto X in Texas, with other component work having to be sourced and manufactured elsewhere. It will employ 2,000 people at the plant.

Woodside reiterated that Motorola, despite being owned by the creator of Android, has “no access to Android code. … There is no advantage that has been conferred to us.” He defended Google’s decision to invest $12.5 billion in Motorola by saying “we don’t need necessarily to see the exact strategic fit with our current business” in order to pull the trigger on a deal; it’s more about investing in technologies that will help shape the future, he said.

Woodside was joined onstage by Regina Dugan, formerly of DARPA and now currently senior vice president for Advanced Technology & Projects at Motorola. She showed off an “electronic tattoo” that could be used for authentication as well as a concept called “vitamin authentication,” producing a tiny pill with a tiny chip in it that apparently can be swallowed and kept inside the body to unlock something. It appears to be a take on the “ingestible sensor” developed and marketed by Proteus Digital Health.

Here’s a look at the electronic tattoo courtesy of AllThingsD’s Asa Mathat:

Regina Dugan of Motorola shows off an "electronic tattoo" at D11. Credit: Asa Mathat/D: All Things Digital

Regina Dugan of Motorola shows off an “electronic tattoo” at D11. Credit: Asa Mathat/D: All Things Digital