As we begin Mission 4, the Project Ara team wanted to share with you some of the insights and inspiration we’ve gotten from all of our scouts. We’ll begin with Mission 1, which overwhelmed us beyond expectations. As this experiment in global, open, online design unfolds, we’ll share back what we’re learning after each mission (we’ll be quicker moving forward :).
Let’s start with a few numbers:
within the first 24 hours of announcing Project Ara, 40,000+ scouts signed up to participate in the Project Ara Research Scout project
almost 3 months later, we’re still getting a few dozen sign-ups each day
Mission 1 had 18,097 scouts who submitted 41,567 snippets. The picture above is a collage of the scout profile images to inspire the team!
Scouts come from at least 111 countries (and these are just from those that entered their country in the profile - I suspect we have closer to 200 countries represented). The map below shows the snippets we received in the first 72 hours.
well over 25% of scouts have Apple devices - very cool to have everybody in the mix!
Mission 1 invited people to share their first impressions, and we got a little bit of everything. Most of the impressions were around customization, module possibilities, and just pure excitement. Here are some of our favorite snippet titles:
A few things stood out to us. First, a lot of scouts explored how a modular phone might support the close relationships in their life: such as a couple or a household swapping and sharing modules. Here’s an example:
“When making something your personal brand is not enough, make it even more personal by coupling parts together. With your love or your best friend or your grandma. So parts belong as you belong in your family.”
The second thing that surprised us is how many scouts talked about how energizing it was to be part of the conversation. We called this category of snippets “Moto+Me”, and the contributions here encourage us to continue with our open design approach. Here’s an example from Mark in the UK:
"Open, user driven, forward thinking community. The first peer to peer hardware community. Able to easily interact and give/get support from developers."
Third, Project Ara has captured the imagination of the world’s youth. Scouts range in age from 13-73, but the largest group of participants are in their 20s and the next are in their teens. Each snippet was ranked on a level of excitement from 1 - 7. What was really interesting is that while the average interest level steadily declined with age, it shot up to the highest levels for those over 70. Teens and our most senior scouts are clearly our most enthusiastic participants.
Fourth, while the overall tone of participants was optimistic, there were a few key questions and concerns that we saw repeatedly. As we begin to develop and share the technical details of the project, we’ll address each of these questions:
Will the pieces easily break apart if dropped?
How easy is it to take the modules out and fit in new ones?
Will there be enough space for all the modules I want?
Won’t this feel bulkier than the standard phone? Will it look good?
Is there a way to lock down the parts so they don’t “walk away”?
Will I need to upgrade the main board every few years?
Will my phone be water proof despite its modular design?
What we’ve seen so far has only solidified our belief that the best kinds of innovation come not from closed doors, but from an open collaboration that engages everyone in the process of thoughtful design. And while we can never hope to return as much inspiration as we’re getting from all of scouts, we’ll continue to share back some of the insight from their participation.
A sincere thanks from the entire team.
Daniel Makoski // Creative Director // @mak0ski
Advanced Technologies & Projects (ATAP) // Motorola - a Google company // @MAKEwithMOTO
P.S. You can always reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org for anything related to dscout, or @mak0ski for anything else.