CES 2018: BLOCKS shows off their modular smartwatch

Following a successful Kickstarter campaign back in 2015, BLOCKS, a new modular smartwatch has made its official launch at this year’s CES in Las Vegas.

The CEO of the company behind the project (also called BLOCKS), Serge Didenko, says that “BLOCKS modular design extends the concept of an app store to hardware and gives the power of choice back to the user.”

According to them, BLOCKS is also 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. What’s more, it’ll pair with both iOS and Android smartphones.

The basic product - called BLOCKS Core - is a fully featured smartwatch on its own that supports smartphone notifications, fitness tracking, Amazon Alexa and a whole range of apps and other features. From there, the device’s functionality can be extended by adding Modules. Each of these add-ons brings with it a different feature or a sensor and connect to the “Core” using the strap.

At this time, the following BLOCKS modules are available:

  • Environment -  temperature, humidity, air pressure and altitude measurements for adventure sports

  • Torch - a handy adjustable LED flashlight with strobe lighting and notification features

  • Smart Button - activated by a touch sensor, it can launch a range of connected apps or commands

  • GPS - GPS and GLONASS receiver that provides location, journey tracking and navigation

  • Heart Rate - optical heart rate tracking over intervals or throughout workouts

The company says that further modules that are currently under development using BLOCKS’ module development kit (MDK): including an air quality monitor, stress & perspiration sensor, body temperature sensor, NFC and UV sensor.

They also say that they’ll be opening up access to its platform for module developers in early February 2018 and are 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.

BLOCKS say they’ve already started shipping to Kickstarter backers and that the BLOCKS Core is now available for order at US $259 while a selection of 4 modules is available pre-order at US$140.

For the full run-down on everything that happened at this year's CES in Las Vegas, click here.

Disclosure - Our coverage of CES 2018 was sponsored by Intel, Belkin and Alcatel - who collectively covered the cost of our flights and accommodation.