DIY modular devices aren’t exactly modern, but they’ve had differing degrees of popularity over time. Some products, such as AIAIAI’s TMA-2 headphones, gained traction, while others, such as the Blocks smartwatch and Google’s modular phone, crashed and burned.
However, the lack of progress in producing and shipping these systems does not deter others from developing new modular devices.
Anil Reddy, the maker of Pockit, a small modular device that can be transformed into a variety of different devices, may have built a must-have. At the very least, it seems to be very cool.
Consider Pockit to be an electronic Lego set. Users will “snap” tiny SLA 3D-printed blocks on top of a magnetized base-board around the size of a credit card to make clocks, Bitcoin tickers, thermostats, cameras, automated watering systems for indoor plants—virtually everything, even a plug-and-play Linux machine with a Raspberry Pi.
Any blocks have elevated icons on top to indicate that they are designed for special use-cases.
Any blocks include a teeny, small circuit board as well as a coin-sized battery that can be used in a variety of gadgets such as garage door openers, watches, and motherboards. Some blocks may be used as keyboards or controllers. It’s also not enough to be a coding wizard to create a Pockit module.
According to Reddy, “Pockit auto-shapes its actions depending on the linked blocks.”
To put it another way, Pockit will program itself by knowing which blocks are linked and how they are laid out on the board. When you attach an LED block to a button block, Pockit understands that you want the button block to switch the LED on and off.
Since the modular system already knows what blocks go together, Reddy claims that this auto-adaptive behavior makes making more complex devices like a smart thermostat or a gardening controller simpler.
Reddy began his career as an embedded engineer, creating a variety of projects from the ground up using certain same, and at times time-consuming, methods.
Many people have brilliant gadget ideas, even though they just want to make it for themselves, but soldering and coding are difficult to learn on their own. Reddy decided to make it easy for electronic DIYers to make devices where their only constraint would be their imagination.
He hasn’t forgotten about people who are more experienced coders, however.
Anyone who wants to fine-tune a Pockit gadget will use plain, English-like statements or C++ to do so. Reddy is currently working on nCode (natural code), an English-like/natural-language syntax scheme that he claims is nearly complete.
Pockit has some drawbacks in terms of functionality. It’s not waterproof, and while it’s a fun way for kids to learn about electronics, the little bits can be dangerous for little children. (This isn’t a toy.)
At the moment, the Pockit ecosystem has just 24 blocks, but Reddy says he’s working on more, such as a thermal camera block and a weight sensor block. Pockit isn’t built for gaming, according to Reddy, but because it’s wifi and Bluetooth LE compatible, maybe someone can find out a way to play games in the cloud in the future.
The Pockit seems to be a fully-fleshed-out modular unit, but it hasn’t been released yet.
At the end of the month, Reddy expects to announce a limited batch of early-testing kits.
Reddy will then begin a preorder program after collecting input and further optimizing Pockit so that more users can get their hands on the device and create their own gadgets.