Modular-watch startup Blocks opens up membership program

blocks-watchesBlocks, a UK-based startup offering a modular watch, has opened up subscriptions to those looking to pre-order their device before its planned release early next year.

The watch will be sold for $250, with the startup offering early customers 20-40% off the full retail price. There is a $50 deposit fee (included in the full retail price for crowdfunders) and the startup reports that 231 of the first 1,000 spots have been filled. They offer full refunds in the event that early customers decide later that they are no longer interested in picking one up. The watches are due to ship in late 2015, so it will be awhile if you are looking to order one.

The potential behind modular devices is that, if one or more sections of your watch or phone is worn out, you want to customize, you simply wish to replace it, the user can. Google, among others, has recognized the potential for this type of device, as it unveiled Project Ara, a the development program for a modular smartphone that it aims to release commercially early next year.

Different people have different tastes and one of the cooler aspects of the Blocks watch is that they are planning to offer different styles and colors to suit different people. If you want a round watchface, they are planning to offer one. Rectangle? Also available. There are a variety of color options, too, so customers have choices.

Beyond the outward appearence, the startup plans to offer interchangeable parts to crowdfunders who get in early, including blocks for monitoring temperature, for monitoring the heart-rate, a microphone, GPS, a contactless-payment block, and a SIM card to start. They are planning to develop further modules, but this is it to start.

Blocks is backed by $50K that it picked up as a result of reaching the top 10 of the Make it Wearable, an Intel-sponsored challenge, but they are not stopping. Next month, the team will appear in San Francisco to take a shot at the grand prize of $500K.

Unlike other startups, which frequently include founders with significant work experience, the teams behind Blocks are pretty young. There are 12 engineers around the globe, but the founding team each attends Imperial College London.

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