In recent years, Google, through its ARA project, and a couple of other startups have gained attention by embracing the concept of modularity, a way of replacing a defective/damaged parts in devices without chucking out the entire unit. But those startups are focused on smartphones. In 2013, a team in the United Kingdom created BLOCKS, a startup that is also diving into modularity, but is hoping to instead apply the concept to smartwatches. And now, after a couple of years of development, their product has moved one step closer to reality.
I suppose that it would be best to start by describing the watch, which appears like many others. It includes a round, black core piece (with a simple face) and an interchangeable band, comprised of modules. The device also reportedly has WiFi connectivity, Haptic feedback, a color touch screen, and 1.5 days of battery life. And because seemingly everyone has a smartphone these days, the developers of this watch have made it so that it is compatible with Android and iOS. Finally, because it is always a question when it comes to hardware-based crowdfunding campaigns, BLOCKS says that they do have a working prototype, which they completed in April of this year.
BLOCKS has developed a smartwatch that offers features that you would expect from such a device (ability to checks email or your calendar, make calls, record voice memos, etc.), but that is also compatible with modules geared towards athletes (measuring air quality and your vitals), techies (a programmable button, flash memory, etc.), and others. They are billing it as an open platform, allowing developers to create their own modules.
Most notable about BLOCKS is their Kickstarter campaign, which has only just launched and already soared well past the goal of $200,000, currently listing pledges of more than $1 million from over 3,600 backers with another 23 days to go, would not be the startup’s first external funding, as they have already picked up an undisclosed amount as a result of becoming a finalist at Intel’s Make It Wearables competition.
Those interested in picking one up can get a core and strap for $195. If you are looking for some modules (4, to be exact) to go with it, backers will need to cough up $285, but should hurry, as cheaper price-levels have already sold out. If you do donate, it could be awhile before you ever see the watch, as delivery is not expected to begin until May 2016.