I am super excited about the Pebble smart watch for Android and iOS phones. This is where mobile technology is headed, and I like it. The watch measures approximately 5cm by 3cm and houses a 144 x 168 pixel resolution e-ink display (like the display used in the Amazon Kindle), a Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR radio for communications, an ARM microprocessor, 3-axis accelerometer and a vibrating motor. The watch can be customised to display a multitude of watch faces, but the pièce de résistance – as with smart phones – is the watches’ ability to run apps.
Once you pair the watch via Bluetooth with your Android or iOS based smart phone you can then load a multitude of apps onto the watch to let it interface with your smart phone – and through your smart phone, the internet at large. Out of the box, the watch will support incoming Caller ID, e-mail (Gmail or any IMAP email account), calendar alerts, Facebook messages, Twitter, weather alerts, and silent vibrating alarm and timer. The list of possible uses for the phone is much larger than this, however, with the accelerometer and connection to the internet via smartphone it is possible to create many unique interactive experiences.
The project aimed to raise $100,000 over 40 days – the response, however, was phenomenal. The initial $100,000 was raised during the first two hours of the project page being live. As it currently stands, eight days later the amount pledge is $2,900,000 – that’s $2.9 million dollars. This is despite similar products already being available, e.g. Sony’s SmartWatch, the Imwatch, and others. This is because despite the Pebble not being first to market, it is smartest to market. I would say this is due to two important factors: first, the Pebble is going to provide an open API for developers using a standard gcc toolchain, meaning that anyone can develop for the Pebble without paying any licence fees or investing anything at all into the platform. Secondly, the Pebble makes use of e-ink display technology to give an estimated seven day battery life, which is a far better option than competing products which last for a day at most. Although this limits the display to monochrome, the physical size limitation of such a device does not lend itself to high quality graphical output even if the display were a high pixel density colour display – it would be like trying to squeeze modern smartphone apps onto an old Nokia mobile phone; or like printing postage stamps with 500 dpi resolution.
The project is due to deliver a final product around September. Needless to say I am very excited and will have trouble waiting that long!