A prototype for Project Ara, Motorola's ambitious plan to build a modular smartphone, is nearly complete. CEO Dennis Woodside confirmed as much during a Google+ Hangout over the weekend, further adding that a final product could eventually make its way to the Moto maker according to a report from The Next Web.

Over the next year or so, Motorola will be doing research to help shape the direction of the project. To further along the effort, they are inviting interested parties to get involved by becoming Ara Scouts. Once signed up, Motorola will e-mail members about once a month with opportunities to share photos, ideas and commentary related to Project Ara.

These opportunities will arrive as a "mission" for users to complete on their Android or iPhone. We're told that the most active participants will be offered access to an early release of the device at no extra cost - granted the early prototypes are a success.

For those not already in the know, Project Ara is a collaborative effort between Motorola, 3D Systems and Phonebloks. The ultimate goal is to create a modular smartphone that will allow users to replace different components of the phone independent of each other.

At present, if you want a better camera for your smartphone, you simply discard your old handset and buy a new one with a better camera, even if everything else on the phone works perfectly. With Project Ara, you'd simply remove the old camera module and fit a new and improved module in its place.