London-based startup BLOCKS, which is developing the first of a kind device in the wearables market–a modular smartwatch–had a great crowdfunding campaign two years ago. It managed to exceeded the fundraising target of $250,000 by collecting $1.6 million, a display of keen interest from gadget fans and tech enthusiasts.
Once customers order something, they are expect to receive the product as soon as possible. However, the development of new technology is not an easy and flawless process. Upgrading the prototypes design, testing robustness of connections, improving software code might take much more time than expected. But if the delay is due to designing a better product, it has the right to take place. Furthermore, we are glad BLOCKS took its time, because now we can see a finished product with a lot of functionalities and great potential.
BLOCKS team has revealed to us its latest achievements and shared their plans for the future.
Core and Modules
BLOCKS Core is a fully fledged smartwatch that has smartphone notifications, fitness tracking, Amazon Alexa and a whole range of apps and other features.
Core tech specs are the following:
Platform: MediaTek MTK6580M, Quad core up to 1.39 GHz
Operating system: Android Oreo 8.0
Display: 1.39” AMOLED 400 x 400 Round display
Touch: 2 points touch
Connectivity: WIFI 802.11 b/g/n, BT 4.0
Memory: 512MB RAM/ 4GB Flash (ePOP)
Sensor Hub: ARM Cortex M4 processor (STM32L476)
I/O: 8-pin I/O (2x I2C, 2x USB, VCC/GND, 2x Reserve)
Key: One Power Button
Power: 4 Conductive pogo pin for cable charging
Battery: 350 mAh
Casing: Stainless steel
350mAh Core battery offers up to 72 hours on standby. Battery life will vary based on usage with average time of 1.5 days before recharge is necessary.
Core functionality can be extended by adding BLOCKS Modules. Modules, each with a different feature or sensor, are connected to the Core instead of a watch strap, to build a custom wearable suited to each user’s individual lifestyle and needs.
The following Modules have been developed so far:
Environment module – temperature, humidity, air pressure and altitude measurements for adventure sports
Torch module – a handy adjustable LED flashlight with strobe lighting and notification features
Smart Button module – activated by a touch sensor, it can launch a range of connected apps or commands
GPS module – GPS and GLONASS receiver that provides location, journey tracking and navigation
Heart Rate module – optical heart rate tracking over intervals or throughout workouts
The company has announced more new modules are currently being developed using BLOCKS’ module development kit (MDK): air quality monitor, stress & perspiration sensor, body temperature sensor, NFC and UV sensor. BLOCKS will be opening access to its platform for module developers in early February 2018. It is already working with a dozen of partner companies to test the tools necessary for the development of new modules, which would allow it to experiment with even more novel technologies such as gesture control, blood pressure monitoring and biometric authentication.
Small to medium wrists would comfortably fit 4 modules in addition to the Core of the watch and individuals with larger wrists could fit 5 or more modules. The watch can accommodate the majority of wrist sizes (140mm-200mm in circumferences) and has an ergonomic shape to ensure a comfortable fit in any configuration with an adjustable clasp.
BLOCKS platform and applications
BLOCKS is one of the first wearable devices to launch with Android Oreo (8.0), and supports third party as well as standalone applications. The watch comes with Amazon’s Alexa already integrated, as well as a host of watchfaces, call management, IFTTT, and a growing list of standalone apps created by the BLOCKS developer community. The watch pairs with both iOS and Android smartphones.
“BLOCKS modular design extends the concept of an app store to hardware and gives the power of choice back to the user,” explains Serge Didenko, BLOCKS CEO.
Omer El Fakir, Founding Partner, adds: “BLOCKS open platform will allow the creation of new cutting edge wearable technologies, be it for consumer applications or industrial, enterprise and even medical sectors.”