Kickstarter projects are always a crapshoot. Blocks’ modular smartwatch had a been of a leg up, in that the company had an actual working product to show to people — but even so, the device always felt like a bit of a longshot. Ever since raising $1.6 million on Kickstarter, the company’s made a point of demonstrating its device for anyone who would listen that the product was a lot more than vaporware.
Now finally, a few years after that initial launch, the startup is finally ready to put its money where its mouth is. The swappable watches have begun shipping to Kickstarter backers and the company is using CES this week to let the world know that it’s finally ready to start selling the product to everyone else.
We’re going to be playing with the product in a few days here at the show — in the meantime, I can’t really speak much to the build quality or execution of the wearables. But hell, even shipping the damn thing feels like a victory after numerous setbacks and delays. If you want to chance it and pick up one before the final reviews are in, the Core product is going to cost you $259.
Might as well wait though — a pack of four models (the reason for picking up a modular smartwatch, let’s be honest) is current only in pre-order. You can choose the modules yourself, running you $140. Combined, that’ll run you a pricey $399.
The available modules represent and interesting cross-section of wearables in 2017. There’s one that measures temperature, humidity, air pressure and altitude; and a combo GPS/GLONASS sensor; a heart rate monitor. Somewhat less compelling are the LED flashlight and a smart button, which launches apps. Meh.
There are a bunch of modules currently in development, as well, including an air quality monitor, UV sensor and NFC. None are really game changers, but the modular system is interesting in that it allows for some slightly far out ideas that most companies wouldn’t dare build into their flagship wearable.
Like Motorola before it, the company will be opening development up to third parties for even more options. That will happen next month. As far as whether companies are really going to develop for the system likely depends on how many units the company moves. The successful Kickstarter is certainly an indication that folks are interested, but a string of delays may have dulled that desire.
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