It’s your time


(Published in The Produktkulturmagazin issue 4 2015)

Wearables are topic number one in the IT world at the moment. In particular, smart watches can do a lot. The question is whether the applications will be used. While many manufacturers overload their devices with features which only a few end users find use for, Blocks has chosen another path.

The modularly combinable smartwatch Blocks first rose awareness as a result of a funding campaign on Kickstarter, for which the planned $250,000 were raised within just 24 hours. Meanwhile, the million mark has been reached thanks to over 4,000 supporters. The unique thing about the watch: if individual components are worn out or broken, they can be easily replaced. As each module fulfills its own function - from the replacement battery to the fitness tracker - the user can add modules according to his own desires and requirements. 

The basic module, a fully functional watch, starts at $195 and can be provided with additional modules later on. Around $300 can be calculated for four modules. Among other things, some of the choices available are GPS functions, a pulse monitor and a special adventure module (including thermometer, altimeter and air pressure sensor). Additional functions are planned for the future, among other things a module which turns the watch into a type of smartphone and makes it possible to receive emails. 

Cooperation partners who are able to develop applications or even entire modules are relied on here. The concept is also interesting in terms of perspective, particularly as it can deliver valuable data on the requirements and references of smartwatch users. As Blocks can be connected with iOS and Android smartphones, there are really very few limits to the imagination. This open concept won Blocks first place in the Make it Wearable competition from Intel. According to the manufacturer, exchanging individual modules will even be possible while the watch is in use, namely the so-called ‘hot swap mode’. 

Even the designs are to be exchangable with a choice of different straps and casings. The manufacturer Phonebloks has already announced cooperation with a British jewellery and accessory company. Additional design partners are due to follow. It is quickly becoming clear: there is at least equally as much value being placed on the appearance of the watch as on its functionality. So that the combination of different modules doesn’t lead to a strange overall appearance, they are simply built into the strap links. And because every variant of the smartwatch has to have a display and a processor, the core is built directly into the display. The only thing missing for the modular watches is the test of the everyday. The delivery of the first watches is expected in May of next year. 


Picture credit © Blocks Wearables Ltd

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