The team at BLOCKS are a London based bunch who are focused on developing the world’s first modular smartwatch. It comes with a range of modular components that clip together with different functionality. These modules can provide absolutely anything from GPS to extra battery life or even kinetic charging! I interviewed their team about the development potential of this upcoming device.

The BLOCKS smartwatch

What makes the BLOCKS smartwatch different from other smartwatch platforms?

It’s not, really. Other than the obvious fact that it’s modular. If you want to develop for BLOCKS it will be just as easy as developing for any Android device. All your familiar tools will work and you’ll feel right at home on our platform. For now we’re not using Android Wear which affords us a lot of more freedom, and should also make things easier for developers too.

What language and skillset will developers need to know to be able to code for the BLOCKS ecosystem?

Again, it will be just like developing for any other Android device. For most of you, there’s little-to-no learning curve here and you can get started right away using Java and XML. For those of you who will be working with sensors (or even writing drivers for them!) things will be a little more involved, and you may need to write some C. Most will be able to access all the sensors you like without writing a line of C, via the Blocks Modular Framework we are developing.

How do developers get involved with BLOCKS today? Is there a way to get a developer edition or something similar to begin building apps prior to launch?

Developers that back us on Kickstarter will have access to Developer versions of the BLOCKS smartwatch. We recommend all those interested sign up to the developers’ newsletter to get the latest information.

How does the BLOCKS modular system compare to the upcoming modular straps for the Pebble Time Smartstrap system?

We imagine it would be very similar because the nature of the two platforms are almost identical. But we believe we hold the advantage as developers can develop for multiple BLOCKS with different functions. On a smartstrap you are still limited to a single strap. But we will be keeping an eye on it as we welcome all innovative technology that benefits the wearables industry. If you want to develop for both platforms we imagine this wouldn’t be difficult at all, at least not from our side!

The team at Vector announced a smartwatch system with up to 30 days battery life. Are the BLOCKS team potentially considering a watchface module that’ll work off similar technology?

For Kickstarter at least, we’re only looking at releasing ​*one*​ core. So we won’t be using this technology, at least not at first. We will definitely be looking into this as BLOCKS grows, and as an open platform for hardware as well as software the possibilities are infinite.

Within the industry, everyone uses similar battery technology, so when it comes down to it, it’s a matter of battery efficiency. We already have Qualcomm on board so BLOCKS has access to the best technology available. For us, it is about balancing having a powerful platform versus having a super long battery life. It is great if the Vector Watch can reach 30 days battery life although we remain confident we will eventually match that with the potential of our battery modules.

Having yet another smartwatch platform is both exciting and potentially confusing for developers. Is there any chance that the BLOCKS smartwatch platform will be cross compatible with the Android Wear or Pebble ecosystems? Any advice for existing smartwatch developers?

For the Kickstarter and the first versions of BLOCKS we are completely focused on our own OS. But technically there’s nothing stopping us from building for Android Wear in the future. We advise developers to sign up to our developers newsletter and get in touch with us. As mentioned your experience with Android ecosystems would be easily transferrable so keep doing what you do best!

What is your personal favourite potential use for the BLOCKS smartwatch?

We are excited for the Gesture Motion Sensor block when it becomes available. We believe it has the potential to impact the smartwatch industry in a big way.

I’d like to give a big thank you to the team at BLOCKS for taking the time to answer these questions! The BLOCKS smartwatch has an official Kickstarter launch date of 13th October 2015. If you’d like to help support them, sign up to their Thunderclap to help send their announcement to the world.

Update

After a bit of discussion on Twitter from @jawk1995 and @MooreAfrica, we’ve got a few more clarifications from the BLOCKS team. Thank you to the Twitter community for continuing the conversation and getting some useful info!

BlackBerry 10 is not confirmed

They’re aiming to work to support Windows Phone after their Kickstarter, it sounds like BB10 isn’t too likely anytime soon.

Coding for BLOCKS works via Android source code

Despite it being Android source code, it will be compatible with iOS!

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