It has been over a year since we first heard of Blocks, a modular smartwatch designed to let you add functionality simply by trading out customized links in the device’s wrist band. Similar in concept to Google’s modular smartphone, Ara, the idea behind Blocks is that not everyone is looking for the same functionality out of their devices. While I might want a device that tracks my Max VO2, you might have no interest in that and would prefer to be able to make NFC based payments. Additionally, as new technologies emerge, such as an optical sensor to detect glucose levels, you wouldn’t need to purchase a new smartwatch to add the functionality – just add a new module. While the concept is intriguing, I am not sure I fully embrace it (for either a watch or a phone). I don’t feel the need to regularly tinker with devices I depend on daily and from a usability standpoint, I believe it is better for the user if the software is built around a unified experience. Additionally, more often than not, once compelling new technologies hit the market, I am usually already at the point when my device needs upgrading anyways. But clearly there are a lot of people who believe that modular is that way of the future, which is amazing for Blocks. The smartwatch went live on Kickstarter today and has already well exceeded its funding goal of $250,000.
Scheduled to ship in May, 2016, Blocks will be compatible with both Android and iOS. For $195 you can receive the core body of the watch and a strap (no modules). Unsurprisingly, nearly nobody has pledged this level. Instead, almost 900 people have already pledged the level that also includes 4 modules (as of publication, the price is $275). The initial modules will include an extra battery, a GPS, NFC Payment, a heart rate sensor, and a sensor for altitude, temperature, and pressure. Later the company plans to add everything from a cellular antenna, to a fingerprint sensor, to a camera. All of the links are hot-swappable, so can trade out modules on the fly. Blocks is an intriguing product and we would love to hear from you about whether you think modular technology is the future or not. Head past the break for their Kickstarter video: