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BLOCKS Modular Smartwatch €? Kick-starting Soon!

The modular 'BLOCKS' smartwatch launched on Kickstarter all the way back in 2015, and quickly raised over $1.6 million. The goal was to make a watch that you could connect extra modules to, adding functionality like an LED flashlight and more battery capacity. However, crowdfunded projects are always a gamble, and now Blocks has officially run out of money.

BLOCKS Modular Smartwatch – Kick-starting Soon!

It's been several years since Blocks had its initial 15 minutes of fame, capturing the internet's attention with the idea of a modular smartwatch. The first prototypes were about as rough and ready as they could feasibly get, but the public's appetite for the ambitious product hadn't waned by the time the crowdfunding campaign started over a year later. More than $1.6 million in pledges and another few years of development, and the Blocks smartwatch is kinda, finally here. But so much has changed in the interim. Project Ara is dead, modularity isn't the buzzword it once was and we've gone from not knowing if we really need a smartphone accessory on our wrist to a saturated smartwatch market. But the founding fathers of Blocks still believe they have something unique to offer.

The team is also currently working on updating the smartwatch OS to Android 8.0 Oreo, so customers can be treated to a faster, more battery-efficient software experience soon after receiving their device. The Blocks OS was originally developed by a company called Cronologics, helmed by ex-Googlers who built smartwatch software with regular Android as the backbone (Alexa support being one of their highlighted achievements). Android Wear, which the big G was focused on, didn't allow the hardware access the Blocks team needed, modular components being key to the product and all. A little over a year ago, Cronologics was acquired by Google, bringing those rogue staff full circle and leaving Blocks to take over development.

BLOCKS, the modular smartwatch that launched in 2014, is officially dead. Backers of the crowdfunding campaign were on the receiving end of a recent email advising that BLOCKS Wearables Ltd. is being liquidated. A backer-only update has also appeared on the product's Kickstarter campaign warning backers that the company has run out of money. The failure has been in the pipeline for more than a year.

Serge is an Imperial PhD Computer Scientist working on biomedical image analysis for the developing brain. In 2012, he helped kick-start Imperial Create Lab, an open community of makers that encourage innovation. In 2013 he founded Blocks the first modular smartwatch ever made. They launched their Kickstarter campaign just a couple of weeks ago raising more than a million dollars so far.

Modularization is the activity of dividing a product or system into interchangeable modules. The target of modularization is to create a flexible system that enables the creation of different requested configurations, while also reducing the number of unique building blocks (module variants) needed to do so. By re-using module variants across multiple configurations, volumes are consolidated on the module level, and economy of scale is reached without limiting/rationalizing the product offerings.

Sony utilized modularization in a structured way for both the Handycam and Walkman product lines to continuously stay ahead of the competition throughout the 1980s. As soon as competitors caught up, Sony could immediately launch the next version and again be the product leader.

Modularity in wearables is a growing idea, as we saw at CES 2015, where Pebble announced it would let developers create interchangeable "smart straps" that would add specific functions to smartwatches. However, this is the first smartwatch running a Google OS that wants to be truly modular, mimicking Google's Project Ara for smartphone customization.

While a modular smartwatch seems intriguing on paper, we have yet to see a working model from Blocks. According to The Verge, the company stated it would be launching a Kickstarter campaign in June. Interested potential customers can sign up on the Blocks website for information as more becomes available. 350c69d7ab


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