The Blocks Kickstarter campaign dates back to October 2015. Over 5K backers helped to raise $1,613,874 to bring the this first “real” modular smartwatch to life. Since then there was a “Beta” and now, finally, on CES 2018 we have a working production model.
So what is Blocks… really?
Blocks is an Android-based (but not Android Wear thought) smartwatch that promises a built-in core functionality + whatever you might wish in form of strap modules. The “core” unit is priced at $259, with additional modules costing $35 each.
“Core” unit packs 1.39” 400×400 AMOLED display, Quad-core MTK6580M processor (Main), 512MB RAM / 4GB Flash, ARM Cortex M4 processor (Sensor Hub), and 350 mAh battery in a 45mm metal body. Functionality is akin to most of the common smartwatches.
However, added modules are where the Blocks is made to shine. There are currently six of them available for sale, providing new functions like GPS, Heart Rate, Environmental sensor (for humidity, temperature, and altitude tracking), LED flashlight, Extended Battery, and Programmable Button. There are more modules promised to come out later but these are what has been shown so far.
The main idea of Blocks is to become a platform rather than just another smartwatch. The company hopes to attract strong partners who will constantly develop new modules and introduce new functionality.
Worth the price?
The whole package (including all modules available today) will cost you over $450. This is a lot, considering that the LG Watch Sport costs only $350, and has NFC. Of course, Blocks has LED, “Environmental sensor”, and a twice better battery, but that’s pretty much it for now.
Unless the creators of Blocks deliver the promised additional modules like ECG, NFC, and Air Quality, the new modular watch has no chances of breaking through. No matter how sad it would be to see such a great idea failing to succeed.
Blocks have done an admirable work throughout the years, developing and refining their product since 2013. Sadly, it looks like the waiting has done its damage and with such a strong competition as today Blocks will have a very hard time catching up.
It’s highly unlikely that the new modular smartwatch will make any substantial weaves. However, Blocks still have a chance of conquering a yet-untapped niche market for highly specialized wristwear. It would be amazing to see an industry-grade modular smartwatch solution like this in logistics (think barcode scanners), for example.
As always, we’ll keep following the latest updates on the wearables market. Android Wear is our system of choice, but we’re always glad to see new projects and players on the scene.
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