Tech & Science

Modular Smartwatch Is Swiss Army Knife For Your Wrist

smartwatch blocks modular wearables
Interchangeable modules of the Blocks smartwatch include a flashlight, GPS and an extra battery. Blocks

Modularity has often been touted as the future of electronics, with companies ranging from Google to Dutch startup Fairphone betting heavily on devices with replaceable components. It offers a solution to the ever-growing mountains of electrical waste and future-proof gadgets against the relentless progress of technology.

Another benefit of modularity that is often overlooked due to its complexity is the ability to offer a fully customizable device. This is something that London-based startup Blocks has set out to achieve by creating the world’s first modular smartwatch.

The main part of the Blocks smartwatch is its "core" module—or watch face—that can operate as a stand-alone smartwatch with a simple strap, or form the basis for other strap modules to be added to improve functionality.

“You’re using the space around your wrist to add different sensors or functions, such as an extra battery, GPS or heart rate monitor or anything that really suits your lifestyle,” Serge Vasylechko, co-founder of Blocks, tells Newsweek.

Two months before shipments begin to early backers of Blocks’ $1.6 million crowdfunding campaign, Vasylechko and industrial design lead Omer El Fakir gave Newsweek an early look at the smartwatch.

The six modules available are a GPS module, a flashlight, a heart rate module, an extra battery, a temperature and humidity sensor and a programmable button that can be set to perform tasks on your phone—from calling a friend, to setting an alarm.

While recent industry figures suggest that interest in smartwatches may be on the decline, Vasylechko believes it is only a matter of time before improved functionality and performance makes them an indispensible part of people’s lives.

“We are in it for the long term because we see a few technological breakthroughs that are just beginning to show up that will make smartwatches the primary device with which we interact with our virtual world,” says Vasylechko, who has for the past few months stopped using his smartphone as part of an experiment.

While they may not have anywhere near the resources of major smartwatch manufacturers like Apple or Samsung, Blocks’ unique functionality may make the world’s first smartwatch the last smartwatch you ever need.

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