Blocks

UK Modular Smartwatch, Blocks, Chooses Android Wear

July 9, 2014 - Written By Tom Dawson

 

A few months ago, we covered a new approach to the smartwatch, dubbed Blocks. The Project Ara of smartwatches, Blocks is a modular smartwatch, which aims to give users a choice over what their wearable will do, with users hopefully able to choose different modules to make up their ideal smartwatch. Currently in development at the Imperial College, the project aims to do what computer upgrades do for smartwatches. After all, we didn’t throw away our PCs when they got a little older, many of us would upgrade them with a new graphics card and more RAM. My gaming rig still runs a Sandy Bridge Core i5, but with faster memory and a much better graphics card it keeps on giving me good results, and I can even upgrade to Ivy Bridge if I wanted to. Sadly, newer chips would require a new motherboard.

Blocks is still in development and the above is an image of a working prototype alongside where they want the final result to be. Each module is held together by magnetic connectors which also send information back and forth to each other and right now the aim is to slim everything down to something a normal human being would have on their wrist. The developers behind Blocks have said that they looked to Tizen for their smartwatch, but have recently decided Android Wear is the way to go. While that’s great news and all, it does raise the question as to whether the choice to use Google’s platform will limit the modular aim of Blocks. One of the ideas originally was that users could choose different displays, like a monochrome one for better battery life for instance. With Android Wear only running on color displays so far, we wonder if that could limit the scope of Blocks.

Even so, Blocks is still very much in development and while the UK team is looking to shrink everything down, it’s going to be some time before we see any real movement here. A Kickstarter project to get some much needed funding is said to be launching in the Fall and if all goes well, this time next year we could be swapping out extra battery life for more sensors or vice versa.