Finding the perfect smartphone isn’t all that difficult as there are literally thousands of devices available in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Options become much more limited, however, if it’s a smartwatch you’re after.
Sure, there are plenty of options to choose from when you account for different colors and band styles but those are only cosmetic changes. If you desire something with a bit more flexibility in terms of functionality, a new smartwatch from Blocks may be the perfect fit.
The Blocks smartwatch works with Android and iOS and consists of two key components.
The first is the Core (the watch itself) which features a 1.35-inch round color display with a resolution of 360 x 360. It’s powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 SoC and 512MB of RAM alongside 4GB of local storage. Bluetooth 4.1 and 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi come standard, as do the accelerometer, gyroscope, vibration motor and microphone.
A 400mAh battery supplies power for up to 1.5 days of use between charges. The company notes that the Core is IP67 certified although they are working towards an IP68 rating.
The second part of the Blocks smartwatch – where the real magic happens – is the modules, or band links. Each module performs a dedicated task. For example, the battery module extends the watch’s runtime, the GPS module provides location capabilities and the NFC module enables contactless payments.
The number of modules you can use is limited only by the size of your wrist. Each module is hot-swappable and over the past two years, the team has partnered with several high-profile tech companies including Qualcomm and ARM. The plan is to release new modules on a regular basis to further expand the usability and longevity of the watch.
Blocks’ modular concept was originally intended for smartphones like Project Ara and PuzzlePhone. Those projects initially seemed like great ideas but really, it may be the smartwatch that benefits most from a modular system. Unlike the smartphone, real estate is a major constraint for smartwatches and has forced early manufacturers to pick and choose the features they believe consumers will want most.
With a product like Blocks, the decision of which features a smartwatch contains is left up to the end-user. I’m still not sold on the concept of smartwatches as a whole but if they do eventually become commonplace, I think a modular platform would be the best route to take.
Blocks has already blown past its $250,000 goal on Kickstarter with more than $280,000 pledged as of writing and 37 days to go. If you want to back the campaign, a pledge of $195 will get you the Core watch and a basic (non-modular) strap when they ship next May. A donation of $275 guarantees you the Core watch and four modules of your choice (the first two early bird tiers have already sold out).
Buyers will get to choose the color of their watch (red, white or black) and the modules they want after the campaign.