Earlier this year, Google announced Project Ara, an ongoing research effort into designing a smartphone with modular components that can be easily removed and replaced as desired. Unlike a conventional handset, which comes pre-assembled and cannot be upgraded, the idea behind Ara is that you would purchase a basic "shell" into which components - such as camera, processor, RAM, and the like - would slot in, and new modules could be bought to upgrade the device at will.
Google has big ambitions for the project and reportedly plans to launch it commercially at the beginning of next year, with the core shell of the device costing as little as $50. As The Next Web reports, the next step in moving towards launch is to get Ara into the hands of real-world users, and the company is now preparing to do just that.
Google says that over 90,000 people applied to be among the first to test the device, but of that number, just 100 have been selected to receive the handset. These "Ara scouts" are located around the world, and the company says that their "passion and creativity were - and are - instrumental in turning an idea into a product".
The 100 scouts will receive the device free of charge, marking a change of approach compared with the companys Project Glass. Google continues to charge early adopters of Glass, known as "Explorers", $1500 (or £1000 in the UK) for the privilege of helping it to refine the product in its "open beta".