The modular ‘BLOCKS’ smartwatch launched on Kickstarter all the way back in 2015, and quickly raised over $1.6 million. The goal was to make a watch that you could connect extra modules to, adding functionality like an LED flashlight and more battery capacity. However, crowdfunded projects are always a gamble, and now Blocks has officially run out of money.
The Blocks team posted a project update on Kickstarter, but since it’s set to only be viewable by backers (never a good sign), all we have to go on are screenshots from backers. The message describes how the Blocks team lost its main manufacturing and software partners at the end of 2016, but the project “refused to give up.” Until now, anyway.
Image credit: u/jma9454
As you would expect from a Kickstarter project several years late to ship a product, backer funds eventually ran out. According to another private project update (mirror), it cost $2.1 million to set up production with another manufacturer, and the Blocks team couldn’t pay for the minimum order quantity until it found more investors. It’s unclear if more funding was ever found.
The last time Blocks was shown off was at CES 2018, after the company switched to a MediaTek processor and a custom Android-based OS. Blocks says it started shipping units to backers at the same time, but it seems like only extremely limited batches were actually sent out. One video review (embedded below) mentioned unreliable health tracking, app crashes, and poor hardware quality.
It took a while, but the Blocks smartwatch has finally joined Project Ara in modular-device heaven. Now, let’s have a moment of silence for anyone who paid $200+ for theirs.