Project Ara prototypes given to 100 people by Google

Google has selected 100 people to beta test its much-hyped Project Ara smartphone, after reportedly receiving more than 90,000 applications to try out the customisable device.

Details of Project Ara emerged in October 2013, and its aim is to allow smartphone users to customise the look of their devices by making the individual components such as the processor, camera and materials used to build it - upgradeable.

The theory being that this will allow users to free themselves from the lengthy 12-24 month mobile phone upgrade cycles, and in turn reduce the amount of e-waste produced each year.

After making an appeal for people to test out the device, before it goes on general release, 100 people have now been picked to receive a free Project Ara smartphone.

This is reportedly part of Google's eight month product refinement plan for the Ara prototype devices, which many pundits are now widely tipping to make their debut in March 2015.

The beta testers have been dubbed "Ara Scouts" and, according to Google, will be "instrumental in turning an idea into a product."

This isn't the first time Google has taken this approach to product development, as it often gives hundreds to thousands of people early access to its products to see how they will be used in the real world.

Earlier this year, the search giant produced 4,000 7in Android tablets featuring 3D camera technology for developers, so that they could create numerous apps for the platform before it goes on general release.

In a similar vein, the company has also been running a beta programme for its Google Glass head-mounted computing devices since 2012.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.