COMPUTEX 2015: Qualcomm edges Intel out of UK smartwatch start-up

By Paul Dempsey |  No Comments  |  Posted: June 4, 2015
Topics/Categories: Conferences, Blog - Embedded, PCB  |  Tags: , ,  | Organizations: , ,

UK start-up Blocks has been generating a lot of interest since it unveiled plans for a modular, customizable smartwatch last year. But as it moves toward production, it looks like its initial processor partner Intel has been replaced by Qualcomm.

Pankaj Kedia, senior director and business lead in Qualcomm’s Smart Wearables Segment, unveiled the “partnership” with Blocks at Computex this week.

He said Blocks was a good example of the emerging companies entering the wearables market with interesting ideas.

“People don’t like wearing the same watch all the time, so what if you made the watch modular?” Kedia said. “Blocks is an example of some of the new players we’re seeing. It’s a small company run by students from [Imperial College] London.

“The idea is you can have different blocks for the strap, for the battery, for the screen. It’s a very interesting architecture.”

From Edison to Snapdragon

Blocks had developed its prototypes using Intel’s Edison development boards and won funding from the company in the UK edition of its wearables competition. However, the Snapdragon 400 has been chosen as the SoC for the production version. The 400 was originally developed to target smartphones and smaller tablets.

As Kedia noted, the selling point behind Blocks is that it aims to free you from, if you will, the tyranny of Sir Jony Ive.

Blocks allows owners to mix and match straps, faces and functions (Blocks)

Blocks allows owners to mix and match straps, faces and functions (Blocks)

Owners can either define a particular configuration, choosing from various functions, faces and straps or they can buy multiple components and then fit them together in different versions.

The watch is based on a customized version of the Android Lollipop OS and will feature WiFi, Bluetooth and fitness sensors as part of the overall offering.

Blocks is expected to be launched via a Kickstarter campaign later this year. The company is currently looking to grow both hardware and software development communities.


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