With the advent of phones, who needs a watch? A phone tells the time, serves you email and texts, reminds you of appointments, and plays your music. Can a watch do that?
Well, most watches can't - good ones anyway. There are some tacky watches you can get from Chinese-based sites. Or you can grab the latest iPod nano and buy a watch strap for keeping your music on your wrist. But even then, it's a bit bulky to be a watch. And those watches do little more than play music.
Until now. Say hello to Pebble.
This e-paper based watch is what Android is to smartphones. It makes almost anything possible on a watch, and complements those with iPhones and Android phones nicely. For Blackberries, the team already has an existing product, inPulse, out on the market.
Want to control music on your phones? It does that. Can it remind you of appointments? It does that. Does it read back incoming text messages? If you've got an Android phone, then yes. Can it accompany you on your morning jogs and monitor your workout? Sure. Want to code in a binary clock and show off your inner geekiness? Whatever floats your boat.
Behind Pebble's uber-flexibility is an app for your smartphone that exposes customization options - new apps and watch faces, for instance. It uses the same app to receive events on your smartphone, all through a Bluetooth 2.1 connection.
Hardware-wise, the watch boasts a 144x168 e-ink display with a backlight to aid nighttime visibility. It includes an accelerometer, a vibration motor, four programmable buttons, and a rechargeable battery that can last up to a week on a charge. The watch is splashproof and comes with a scratch-resistant, anti-glare coating on the screen. The watch comes with a choice of three colours - Jet Black, Arctic White, and Cherry Red - with a fourth colour that will be decided by the Kickstarter crowd.
Unconvinced? They already have working prototypes, which you can see in action below:
The team began their Kickstarter pledge with a mere $100,000 as a funding milestone. A day later, they've already blown that goal ten times over, with almost 8000 backers and a million dollars worth of pledges, and a healthy dose of virtual media coverage.
Mouth drooling? Then head over to its Kickstarter page and throw in $115 USD for a Jet Black watch. The team plans to have them shipped starting this September.
Update: With the project well past $2 million in pledges and over 16,000 backers, it's on its way to becoming one of the highest funded projects on Kickstarter. The current record setter goes to this classy iPhone dock that netted $1.4 million.
The Pebble team also threw in two extra tasty tidbits: the watch will be water-resistant for non-deep diving purposes. One can picture aspiring swimmers swimming with their Pebble watches and their phones sealed in a watertight case, should someone come up with a swimming stats app. In addition, aspiring hackers and developers will get access to the SDK, which will be free, before Pebble ships.
One request echoed here in the comments section below and on the Kickstarter page is news of support for Windows Phone. On Pebble's official blog, team member Andrew Witte mentions a lack of proper Bluetooth support in Windows Phone to permit Pebble to work as it does on iPhones and Android phones:
Unfortunately WP7 doesn't have the Bluetooth features we need in order to make Pebble work with it. Maybe someday.
It does appear that, for now, third-party apps on Windows Phone cannot interface with Bluetooth devices. Perhaps with the release of Windows Phone "Apollo" later this year, this could change.
Thanks to fellow editor Owen for mentioning this on Twitter!