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Blocks modular smartwatch: Like Project Ara for your wrist

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March 6, 2014

The Blocks smartwatch takes the modular concept from Google's Project Ara, and transfers i...

The Blocks smartwatch takes the modular concept from Google's Project Ara, and transfers it to the burgeoning world of smartwatches

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Remember back before computers were sexy, and you only bought a new PC once every three or four years? Have you ever stopped and wondered whether buying the latest iPad, Galaxy, or Surface every single year is just a little bit ridiculous? Google is certainly questioning that line of thinking with its modular Project Ara smartphone, and now someone has a similar aim with wearables. Meet Blocks: the first modular smartwatch.

Riffing off of the concept Google (originally under Motorola) popularized with Ara, Blocks lets you pick and choose the components that will make up your new smartwatch. Order the bits and pieces that tickle your fancy, see them snapped together, and enjoy your long-term investment, knowing that you can upgrade or swap out any components you see fit.

Some of the functionality that will supposedly be available on Blocks

Some of the functionality that will supposedly be available on Blocks

It might sound a little gimmicky at first blush, but when you look at some of the suggested combinations, it starts to make sense. Are you an exercise fiend? Pick a non-touch LED screen and sensors that monitor your heart-rate and blood-oxygen. More the Bear Grylls explorer type? Snap in a GPS radio, e-ink screen, and extra battery so you can stay connected for days without a charger. More interested in a watch that replaces your smartphone? Get a touchscreen, 2 GHz processor, 8 MP camera, and a SIM card.

These are, of course, some very targeted examples and most existing smartwatches already fit into one of these demographics. But I'd say the beauty with a modular product like this is in finding your own unique blend that doesn't necessarily fit into a single prescribed formula. That, and the fact that you can actually change your mind a year later, swap out a few things here and there, and keep using the same watch.

Perhaps best of all, the Blocks watch is an open platform. That includes both hardware and software: so we aren't just looking at one company controlling everything. On the contrary, everything about the Blocks watch will be put in the hands of the development community.

An example of one Blocks watch

If you think this sounds pretty cool, you aren't alone. But just know that this is a long-term project. The Blocks team tells me that they do already have a working prototype, but want to improve its performance and aesthetic, as well as add more blocks, before pushing anything out to the public. They're shooting for an early-to-mid 2015 launch. We can expect to see it hit a crowdsourcing platform soon, and developers will get their hands on it before the public launch.

In the meantime, you can watch the Blocks video below, and hit up the product page below for (a little) more info.

Product page: Blocks

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin covers consumer technology for Gizmag. He's previously written for Android Central, Geek, GottaBeMobile, Android Police, and The Huffington Post.
He lives in New Mexico, U.S., with his lovely wife, Jessica.
  All articles by Will Shanklin
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