Blocks launches "world's first modular smartwatch" on Kickstarter
London-based startup Blocks has designed a smartwatch that allows wearers to choose the functionalities they need by clipping on additional modules.
Described by the company as the "world's first modular smartwatch," the Blocks timepiece consists of a core circular watch face which offers phone notifications, wifi connectivity, activity tracking, a touch screen and voice control.
Users can select additional modules to customise their watch, clipping pieces onto the face. The modules also form the wristband for the timepiece, with room for more or less modules depending on the wearer's wrist size.
Five Blocks modules are currently available, allowing wearers to track runs using GPS, make contactless payment with near field communication (NFC), measure their heart rate, take temperature, pressure and altitude readings, and store a back-up battery which can be clipped onto the watch strap when needed.
"From smartphones to wearables, current technology is one-size-fits-all," said co-founder Serge Didenko in a statement. "This means that we're all forced to compromise on what we want from our devices. Modularity is how we bring a greater choice of features to a device that is small enough to sit around our wrists."
Two more modules are set to be announced across the course of Blocks' Kickstarter campaign, which launched on 13 October and reached its goal of $250,000 in just 56 minutes.
Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Dave Hakkens employed a similarly modular approach for his 2013 Phonebloks concept – unrelated to Blocks – which proposed a phone comprised of detachable pieces.
Hakkens later collaborated with the Google-owned Motorola to develop the concept into the Project Ara smartphone, with Google unveiling the most recent prototype in January 2015.
At the time of writing 3,585 backers had promised over $1 million (£650,000) in funding for the Blocks watch, which is due to ship in May 2016.
The Pebble Time smartwatch – which promises seven days of battery life – broke Kickstarter records earlier this year, when it reach its $500,000 (£325,000) Kickstarter goal in less than 20 minutes.
Blocks hopes to encourage external companies and individuals to build additional watch modules, with a reported 1,500 developers already signed up to receive the Blocks Software Development Kit and the Module Development Kit. The company also says it's collaborating with major technology partners to develop further modules.
"You would need to buy a new smartwatch each year just to keep up with the evolving technology," said Blocks co-founder Alireza Tahmaseb. "This is contrary to how watches used to be."
"Blocks beats other smartwatches by being future-proof. You can upgrade your watch by adding new features, module by module, as they become available," added Tahmaseb. "Blocks is the last smartwatch you’ll ever need."
Apple's much-hyped smartwatch, the Apple Watch, was recently described by designers as "a bit underwhelming".
Dezeen Watch Store has also launched its first smartwatch – the Mondaine Helvetica Smart 1957, based on the iconic Swiss typeface Helvetica.