BLOCKS breaks Kickstarter goal, looks like the ultimate "build your own" smartwatch
The concept is very simple and follows after the spirit of Project ARA, the modular smartphone platform and product that Google is building behind closed doors. BLOCKS' modularity is contained in the wrist strap, which actually consists of hot-swappable modules linked together in a chain. Thus, BLOCKS users won't be treated to the typical selection of sporty rubbery bands or expensive leather bracelets (at least initially) that usually accompanies smartwatches, but will be able to fully customize the gadget's functionality.
Of course, a watch without a watchface is merely a fancy bracelet, so the team had to pay proper attention to that as well. 'The Core', as the timepiece itself is called, is an understated circular watch made of plastic, like the modules themselves. It is fully functional on its own, running a modified Android build (not Android Wear) on a 360 x 360 resolution display that's powered by Qualcomm hardware — the Snapdragon 400 SoC, 512MB of RAM, and 4GB of memory.
To get things going, BLOCKS announced five initial modules for users to tinker with. These are an extra battery module, a GPS module, a NFC module for contactless payments, a heart rate sensor module, and an "adventure" module that delivers live readings of temperature, pressure, and altitude. BLOCKS will announce two additional modules during the Kickstarter campaign, and has many more planned — stuff like SIM card slot, fingerprint sensor, and a notification LED, among other things. What we like most about the idea is that one will be able to customize the wearable before, or during every occasion. Running out of battery? Replace a battery module. Heading out for a run? Add a heart rate monitor. More power to the user!
At launch, BLOCKS will be compatible with iOS and Android devices, starting from iOS 8 and Android 4.0+. The water and dust-resistant watch is produced by Compal Electronics and it will be available in three colors. Users will be able to fit either three or four modules at once on the wriststrap, along with an adjustable clasp. The base model starts at $195, being just the watch Core and a plastic strap. For $90 more, one will be able to buy the core and four additional modules.
BLOCKS seems like a refreshing and empowering alternative to today's smartwatches. If it works as advertised, the modular timepiece is definitely going to appeal to users that still struggle to find their perfect wearable — especially if build material options other than plastic are introduced.
source: BLOCKS (Kickstarter)