Project Ara is one of the most exciting technology projects today; an initiative to develop an open hardware platform for modular smartphones. The point being, that you wouldn’t have to buy a new smartphone for better features. You would simply buy a new camera or a new battery to improve the phone you already have with modular components. Or, you could go into a store to pick the features you want in your new phone and build your own device.
It’s exciting and interesting, but importantly it’s in its infancy. It’s not viable right now and we consumers must pick from the handsets released by Apple and HTC and other tech giants that offer no hardware customization whatsoever; we must remain tied into each of these vendor’s product life cycles with no choice whatsoever as to their next-gen features.
Smartwatches, however, are different. They are generally still considered a new niche looking to replicate the success of smartphones and so, a modular smartwatch would probably work. At least, that’s the hope with BLOCKS, the world’s first modular smartwatch from London-based BLOCKS Wearables that lets you pick and choose the features your smartwatch will have and do away with all the less appealing functions current smartwatches tend to offer – as well as change them around.
What’s the deal with BLOCKS?
BLOCKS is an open platform, modular smartwatch. It’s the brainchild of BLOCKS Wearables, whose Kickstarter campaign asked for a $250,000 backing. $1,613,874 was pledged in the end, making it one of the all-time top 15 technology projects on Kickstarter.
The way it works is simple – the strap is made of several modules each with their own function, and you can choose between any of the following (plus more):
• SIM card module;
• Extra battery module;
• Gesture control module;
• Fingerprint module;
• Adventure module (altitude, pressure and temperature);
• NFC payments module;
• GPS module;
• Haptic module;
• Flash memory module;
• Camera module.
You effectively choose the modules you want and therefore create the perfect smartwatch for your needs. The modules connect together perfectly and they are swappable at any time and there’s no need to restart the watch when you disconnect and connect the modules. All of these are connected and powered by The Core, the face of the watch.
The Core has been designed to stand the test of time, with an eclectic style. It is home to a 1.35″ full round AMOLED display of 360 x 360 resolution, Bluetooth 4.1 and WiFi 802.11 b/g/n. The display is protected by a hardened tempered glass and BLOCKS Wearables promise that The Core will remain current, as in, it won’t become outdated as more and better modules are released. Interestingly, BLOCKS runs Android Lollipop – not Android Wear – and it will be developed further to run Android Marshmallow in the future.
The only limitation of this watch is your wrist size. The smaller your wrist, the fewer modules you can have. However, even the smallest wrists can fit 3-4 modules, and the way we see it there’s no reason why modules with two or more features can’t be created in the future, to satisfy the needs of society’s ever-growing technological demands.
And so with unprecedented choice, the latest technology and significant money to be saved through modular customization, BLOCKS might just be the only watch you’ll ever need. If you are interested, you can pre-order it through BLOCKS. Shipping starts in June 2016.