Kickstarter: Pebble, the perfect watch companion for your smartphone [Update]

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!

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39 Comments

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I bought a black one. They look awesome. I love the look of e-ink so this should be epic... also, this will be great for work when I get a text message my arm will vibrate!

I don't get the post about how bt on WP doesn't work properly with third party apps when iOS bt is the biggest joke in frigging history. Can only connect with like bt headphone for hands free and that's pretty much it apart from other iPhones. Not sure about WP bt tbh but id of thought they'd of had more problems with ios devices than anything else

Standard black one ordered! It's not expensive at all compared with basic e-ink watches, even with shipping to the UK. A bluetooth 4.0 over 2.1 would've been nice but it's hardly a deal breaker. Perhaps for the Pebble 2.0...

Nice im keen to a Red one, so what i have to Pledge 125USD, and i get one for free or do i then pay another price to get the watch?

Edited by The_Observer, Apr 14 2012, 2:12am :

th3r3turn said,
Nice im keen to a Red one, so what i have to Pledge 125USD, and i get one for free or do i then pay another price to get the watch?

Essentially yes, the $125 is the price for a watch. (minus extra shipping costs)

Great idea, however bluetooth is extremely unrelaible, it'd be better to spend a little more and use wifi instead.

Tartan said,
Great idea, however bluetooth is extremely unrelaible, it'd be better to spend a little more and use wifi instead.

Unless you were on the same home network, I can't see wifi working. Plus from my knowledge you can't setup a private access point on iOS, outside of Personal Hotspot. And in any case, wifi is more power hungry than an active Bluetooth connection.

Denis W said,

Unless you were on the same home network, I can't see wifi working. Plus from my knowledge you can't setup a private access point on iOS, outside of Personal Hotspot. And in any case, wifi is more power hungry than an active Bluetooth connection.


Wi-Fi Direct....

htcz said,

Wi-Fi Direct....

Ah right. But that's only on the Nexus and select other Androids. They should be aiming for wider compatibility.

Even then you have the question of battery life. Would it be better than just using Bluetooth?

interesting. you obviously like jumping to conclusions and spreading false information to substantiate your ridiculous conspiracy theories. if you had an attention span that could facilitate actually reading about the device (or even to watch the convenient little video [snipped]) you would know that the device has no GPS itself, it uses your smart phone via the bluetooth link. so, you already have a "government tracking device" in your smart phone anyway. shocker! if you don't have a smart phone then the watch is totally useless. either way, your comment is completely irrelevant. [snipped]

Edited by Denis W., Apr 14 2012, 3:24am :

I told ya calculator wrist watches will have a comeback! I told ya!
Except if you actually think it's a pretty neat idea, you're a miserable toad.

Phouchg said,
I told ya calculator wrist watches will have a comeback! I told ya!
Except if you actually think it's a pretty neat idea, you're a miserable toad.

Well, 18,138 "miserable toads" thus far....

TCLN Ryster said,

Well, 18,138 "miserable toads" thus far....

Way more, most likely. Including me, I might add, but not for this specifically.
This thing here - Jobsian douchebaggery influence at work. I'll have nothing with that.

WP7 said,
If no wp7/wp8/w8 support i'm out
Me too. I hope they will work on Windows Phone and Windows 8 apps in the future. Until then, I'll wait.

WP7 said,
If no wp7/wp8/w8 support i'm out

I'm sure they'd love to support Windows Phone. Unfortunately the Windows Phone OS doesn't support it.

Looks like they show it off with a Lumia 800 in the video (could be a N9, hard to say)

And the styling of the text looks like a perfect match for WP, hope they bring that support

Sraf said,
Looks like they show it off with a Lumia 800 in the video (could be a N9, hard to say)

And the styling of the text looks like a perfect match for WP, hope they bring that support

There's a SDK available, it was offered early to 200 people who went for that pledge amount.

Denis W said,

There's a SDK available, it was offered early to 200 people who went for that pledge amount.

Well there we go then!

Sraf said,
Looks like they show it off with a Lumia 800 in the video (could be a N9, hard to say)

No, they're showing the watch off with a white iPhone. A Nokia device only happens to be in it (for around 2 seconds) because they showed a screenshot of an article from The Verge. (I could be wrong but, based on the photo in that article, it's probably a N9.)

(Here's a link to the aforementioned article: http://www.theverge.com/2012/2...e-i-just-got-a-text-message)

Auroka said,
Now this is a smart watch I'd actually buy! Too bad no Windows Phone support.

Yep. Hopefully they get Windows Phone support soon!

Auroka said,
Now this is a smart watch I'd actually buy! Too bad no Windows Phone support.

They haven't produced them yet en masse; you can still request support for WP! Some of the pledgers have, for instance, requested inclusion of Bluetooth 4.0.

Given their newfound popularity and horde of cash, they could justify expenses to support another platform.

Denis W said,
Given their newfound popularity and horde of cash, they could justify expenses to support another platform.

Did you even read the article you wrote Denis? The issue is not of Pebble supporting Windows Phone, it's of Windows Phone not supporting devices like pebble due to a less than perfect Bluetooth implementation in the OS.

TCLN Ryster said,

Did you even read the article you wrote Denis? The issue is not of Pebble supporting Windows Phone, it's of Windows Phone not supporting devices like pebble due to a less than perfect Bluetooth implementation in the OS.

To be fair, I wrote that comment BEFORE I made the update. Could've deleted/edited it, but... no real point.