Blocks, the modular smartwatch project that raised $1.6 million on Kickstarter in 2015, is closing for business.
The startup behind the watch revealed through a private Kickstarter post that it was liquidating assets as it had run out of cash. It had apparently been looking for investors for some months, but didn’t secure the additional funds taking with it any future development of the wearable.
Backers, the majority of whom still haven’t received their watches after years of delays and explanations, are receiving “proof of debt” forms to present as creditors. That is however far from a guarantee that they’ll get their money back.
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If you need a reminder, Blocks was essentially made up of an Android and iOS-friendly Core module that ran on Android. Staple features of the Core include fitness tracking, 2-day battery life, music control, the ability to deal with calls and messages and Alexa support to tap into the smart assistant from your wrist.
Where things got more interesting (and smarter) was with the clip-on modules that added a host of additional features including GPS/GLONASS, a heart rate sensor, environmental sensors, an LED flashlight, a smart button to launch apps and an extra battery. The onus was on interested developers to create these extra modules.
The reality it seems though was that manufacturing costs and the burden of creating its own bespoke operating system based on Android as opposed to Wear made Blocks impractical economically.
We can’t say we are all surprised the Blocks story has ended this way. The project has been in development since 2013 and despite raising the big bucks on Kickstarter, missed two planned launch windows.
When we got our last look at the smartwatch in early 2018, we weren’t massively convinced that it was able to deliver this truly great modular device. Especially one that cost $259.
Clearly making modular tech is hard and bigger companies have realised that too in recent years. Google cancelled its Project Ara modular smartphone project in 2016.
While there will be no doubt be an appetite for the ability to upgrade you existing tech by simply clipping on sensors and batteries, it might be a while before we see the idea truly realised. We applaud Blocks for trying to make it a reality, but sadly it seems it just wasn’t meant to be.