Smartwatches are a paradox. They extend some of the capabilities of the smartphone by putting notifications and other functionality on the wrist but they also have serious limitations because of their size (including their puny batteries), comfort requirements and limited input. They require even more functional tradeoffs than smartphones and unfortunately that may include things important to certain buyers.
But there will be a far smaller chance of that for owners of the Blocks smartwatch. The “core” of the device includes a sleek round LCD watch face that provides features such as voice input, haptic feedback, low-power Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, notifications and activity tracking. It works with both iOS and Android smartphones. However, the real flexibility from the system comes form its modules. Blocks has proposed at least 18 to start off with, including modules for LED lights, extra batteries, flash memory, a cellular SIM card, GPS, heart rate monitor, NFC payments, fingerprint reading and air quality monitoring. It also intends to open up its module specifications so that others can create modules for it. Blocks seeks $250,000 by November 19th. A Blocks core and four modules are available to pledge backers for $285 and is due to ship in May 2016.
Blocks takes advantage of the considerable real estate beyond screen of a smartwatch. It claims 1.5 days of battery life but adding on so much functionality could strain that. Fortunately, one can offset that with a battery module. Of course, as has been the case for the modular smartphone cases we’ve seen, much will hinge on whether the company behind Blocks can win developer support, a classic chicken and egg. That said, the modules it has proposed out of the gate, while serving to drive up the total price, offer functionality that backers should be able to put to use.
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