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back to article It's all in the wrist: E-ink smartwatch Pebble bags $2m

A group of people who designed an e-ink watch and were looking for $100,000 to fund its production raised that in a couple of hours – and they're now well on their way to having $2m to spend. The "Pebble" watch comes from the team that created the smartphone-on-a-watch inPulse. The Pebble is a smaller version of that product, …

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What Motorola and Sony missed

The thing that Motorola and Sony missed, and that Pebble get, is that I don't WANT a cellphone on my wrist - nor do I want an Android tablet. I want a watch. The goal is to have a light weight device (so that I can wear it all the time), low power (so I don't have to always be charging it), simple to use (e.g. I don't have to do the hokey-pokey to see the time) device, that serves as an adjunct to my other devices.

I don't want to use it as the audio interface for my phone (really: imagine using your watch as a phone. It's inconvenient to hold it to your ear to hear it, and if you hold it to your mouth to talk, you cannot hear it, unless it is so loud as to be a speakerphone - and then you lose all privacy.) But using it to display a subset of the information on my phone (who is this? Red Cross? Fsking vampires - I told them I was on antibiotics, they can't take a pint) and to do a simple answer/bug off, and then let my headset (or my car's hands-free) do the audio - that works!

I used to have a Timex Datalink USB (till the crown broke off the stem) - I loved having world time, multiple count down timers, a copy of my appointments that is always with me, etc. This looks like it just might fill the void.

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Re: What Motorola and Sony missed

Came on to post much the same.

I was going to buy a GPS watch for cycling/running, but this seems to fit the bill and at well under £100 it's cheaper than all but the most basic of dedicated devices while still allowing me to use Runkeeper/Endomondo etc.

Win.

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Stu

Re: What Motorola and Sony missed

Yeah, except when the product hits the shops, I cannot imagine them selling it at £100 in the UK, not now they've seen the interest levels.

With that funding continuing the way it is, they could estabilsh it as a major international brand, adertise the watch on every major TV network internationally for some weeks, potentially on the run up to christmas, and make a mint.

Get in there on the KickStarter donation early then before they start earning the big bucks.

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WANT!

The red one in particular looks great. And I haven't worn a watch in years.

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Missed opportunities for watch co's

I've often wondered why watch manufacturers didn't jump on e-ink when it first came out. Forgetting all the communication stuff (and therefore increasing battery life) they could have allowed punters to connect their watches to their computers over USB or whatever and download paid "watch faces", "alarm tones" and other ringtone-style stuff.

Perhaps they were thinking "why would anyone buy a new watch from us if they can just switch their watch face whenever they want".

I'd love to see if this Pebble thing supports turning off the bluetooth to give it more battery life. Even as-is, with a claimed 7 day life it looks very interesting.

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Re: Missed opportunities for watch co's

IIRC, Seiko has done a couple e-ink watches.

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Stu
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Incroyable!!!

As for e-ink watches, on my wrist right now is a Phosphor WorldTime watch, which has served me well for well over a year and four months without the battery failing, and is of course continuing to work.

So you can imagine the prospects of having a watch that requires charging every 7 days being a bit of a disadvantage - its questionable whether its worth the (very cool admittedly) extra features...

..

I have been following all sorts of KickStarter projects for quite some time now (shame it's US projects only, IndieGoGo is the way to go then) and have never seen a project pull in over a million dollars in the space of 28 hours! Just amazing, and the project shows it too.

Very very well done, very well polished and presented too. The Casio's and Timex'es of the world have an awful lot of catching up to do.

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Boffin

Not E-ink, but...

TI also has a watch that is actually a development platform. You get to program the whole firmware of the watch... lousy battery life, though.

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Re: Not E-ink, but...

Actually, the Pebble's display isn't e-ink, either, it's the second generation of the display that the Meta Watch (which I think is the TI watch you're referring to - either that, or the eZ430 Chronos) uses.

The problems with the Meta Watch are two-fold... the stock firmware is set up as a glorified dumb terminal, and the toolchain that actually works costs $2000 once the trial is up.

(And I'm wearing a Meta Watch right now, FWIW.)

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Too little, too late.

At the risk of sounding age-ist I have to ask when was the last time you saw anybody under the age of 45 wearing a watch for a purpose other than jewellery? It seems to me like this company has received financial backing from investors because they're of the older generation and aren't aware that the watch is a dying form factor.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Too little, too late.

First of all: the people contributing this are NOT "investors", any more than you are an investor in BP when you fill your car's tank. These are people who's only expectation for their money is the product. They may wish to support this product into the market, but unlike an investor, they aren't expecting to make any profit on their contribution.

Secondly: Who cares if the kiddeez don't wear watches? They also don't wear hearing aids, adult diapers (or children's diapers, for that matter), eat dog food, buy 747s, or many other things for which a market exists - so yes, you are sounding age-ist and your downvotes should confirm that to you. Just because your little clique doesn't want something doesn't mean the world follows in your footsteps.

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Re: Too little, too late.

Too little, too late for whom? Those of us over the age of 45 are still allowed to buy things you know. I even have my daughter's permission :-)

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Re: when was the last time you saw anybody under the age of 45 wearing a watch

Er, right now? On my own wrist. Being a somewhat ugly but practical casio g-shock its definately there for function, not to look pretty. While I could use my phone as a pocket watch, I don't want to for pretty much the same reason pocket watches got replaced with wrist watches in the first place. Its a long time since I bothered to use its ability to hold phone numbers though...

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Re: Too little, too late.

Precisely - why this isn't a watch.

The problem with a watch is that it only told the time, and you only needed to use it when you needed the time, which was less often than you used your phone.

Now that your phone demands your attention every 2secs for SMS, twitter updates, facebook pokes or all the other stuff those young people do nowadays with their social networking - you need a quick glance dashboard to manage all the data.

A wrist mounted display seems the ideal solution. It's a more rugged, cheaper, easier and more practical version of the google glasses.

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Re: Too little, too late.

Ok, so investors was the wrong word to choose and I'm not saying people shouldn't club together to fund a production run of a device they all want. What I was commenting on was that such a device isn't likely to have a particularly big market, anybody who wants one has likely already paid up.

This is the core of what I'm getting at, if Casio et al had started integrating more tech into their watches at the turn of the millennium they could have tapped into several generations of working people who had grown up wearing watches, people who were used to checking their wrist when they needed information. Instead they procrastinated and mobile phone manufacturers stole the lead integrating more features into their devices. Now current and future generations of working adults won't even wear a watch for time keeping let alone anything else. It's hard to sell somebody a smart watch when all you're offering them is duplication of their phone's features.

You're right in that the watch wearing over 45s still represent a large percentage of the population and they do have money to spend but it's a market that is only going to decrease in size as time goes on.

This company may have found a novel way to finance it's first production run but I doubt they'll want to do it this way forever. So, in my first post I was asking what future does a company have when they're selling to a market that's only ever going to get smaller and smaller? The James Bond style smart watch is only ever going to be a fad toy for the older generation.

--

As a sidenote, there's a delicious irony in being accused of ageism by somebody who in their previous sentence describes everybody under the age of 45 as 'kiddeez'. As for upvotes and downvotes, unless they're qualified with a comment they mean nothing really. For all I know everybody has been skim reading, assumed I was having a go at people for being old, picked a side based on their bias and then the upvotes and downvotes are simply a representation of the age spectrum of el reg's readership. It hardly matters.

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Holmes

Re: Too little, too late.

Watches aren't dying. This nonsense of using a phone for a watch is backward. It reminds me of when people carried pocket watches and had to fumble around to dig it out to use it. My watch is solar powered and radio controlled. It never needs me to do anything to it. It just reliably tells the time (anywhere in the world). Children always try to do things differently from their parents. Give it a few years and they will realize a phone is not a reliable time-piece and a watch is invisible until you look at it.

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Re: Too little, too late.

I use my phone at work (watch get left in my coat) and a watch outside of work. I'd get mugged if I pulled my S2 in the middle of the street round here and I regularly get my hands and arms in places that dont like watches and jewelry hanging on your wrists.

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As an oldie...

Stylewise, shades of the 1970's Sinclair Black Watch doncha think?

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Facepalm

Metal Bracelet

Why oh why put a plastic band on it. They break. I stopped buying watches with plastic/leather bands. Metal or it stays on the shelf.

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Re: Metal Bracelet

Then buy a 22 mm metal bracelet, and install it. Problem solved. :)

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WTF?

Re: Metal Bracelet

Why would I buy something then immediately spend more money in upgrading it? You sound like someone who is unable to think clearly.

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Boffin

Re: Metal Bracelet

Clearly not someone who works around sources of electricity then...

Yes, I have learned the value of a non-conductive watch band, after accidentally getting mine between the terminals of a 9Ah gel cell battery.

While I could just take it off, I'm lazy, and thus, plastic or fabric bands have a definite place in the market.

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Re: Metal Bracelet

Because metal bands are blingtastic. Leather or it stays on the shelf.

So, in answer to your question; different folks have different tastes.

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Re: Metal Bracelet

moderately hairy arms + metal = bloody awful. I also find my wrists do expand contract with the heat (or at least perception of). Animal straps are my fav (and washable too).

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When will someone design a watch I would want to wear?

I like the idea of this watch, although the design isn't something I'd want on my wrist, perhaps something a little more traditional looking (nice round case, leather or metal strap etc.) but still with the e-Ink display (preferably higher resolution as it's obvious they can't fit a complete analogue display on there) and with Bluetooth 4 for longer battery life.

As it stands, the design is butt ugly. If someone could create a higher resolution and preferably round display, could it replace traditional mechanical watch internals and lead to more attractive watch designs?

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FAIL

Battery life

An e-ink device with the same battery life as an equivalent touch-screen colour LCD is hardly an impressive selling point, especially when common-or-garden digital wristwatches can run continuously off the solar power provided by the British climate.

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Re: Battery life

The ones with touchscreen color LCDs that are claiming that long battery life are turning the LCD off, so you have to turn it on to check the time.

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Go

Exhilarating and terrifying

This must be both exhilarating and terrifying for them. Exhilarating in that their vision is taking off, and they will be able to do things they had only dreamt of before this, terrifying in that the expectations are so terribly high now, and not reaching those expectations will be heralded as "failure".

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Anonymous Coward

EPIC FAIL

Sounded so promising until they said iPhone and Android only?! Without a Windows Phone 7 version this thing won't shift at all. Imagine the potential for various live tiles on that thing.

The iPhone with it's siloed apps would just waste the potential of this device

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Anonymous Coward

Re: EPIC FAIL

Without a Windows Phone 7 version this thing won't shift at all.

Let's be honest, a Symbian version is likely to result in more sales of these watches than a Windows Phone version.

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Re: EPIC FAIL

Depends on how they've done it. Bluetooth has quite a lot of things like audio, audio controls, etc already in the specification. If they've implemented that sort of thing then there's a half chance that the pebble will just work with other mobiles too (at least for things that Bluetooth knows about).

If they've ignored the Bluetooth standards and done something bespoke then it will be harder. It would be a shame if they have ignored all those Bluetooth profiles, there's some good stuff in there. But the open SDK they're talking about might mean that any programmer could make it work with Windows Phone, or BlackBerry, or why not a PC?

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Re: EPIC FAIL

Joking right? If not, ask Microsoft. Probably nobody can access the non trivial things on bluetooth API in windows phone. Sports tracker guys can't ship heart tracker device too.

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Re: EPIC FAIL

oddly enough you arent wrong. Old WM6.5 sync'd perfectly in my ford and bmw. First gen nokia WM7 would not in the bmw and lost sync for odd reasons (and debonded for some even more inexplicable reason) in the ford. My mate took his nokia back and got a S2 instead after a while so I cant tell you what more recent firmware revisions have brought about.

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Wm 6.5 is a real smart phone os

Windows mobile was a symbian competitor that allows real applications and binding to system functions.

Probably it had syncml open, documented sync support or it was added by an application. Win phone aka "I want to be cool like iphone 1" doesn't have such things.

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What about the metawatch

What about the metawatch that is currently on my wrist? Sure it doesn't have an e-ink screen but it's available now!

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very nice

I was one of the idiots that purchased the useless sony liveview watch, from day one it didnt work, a firmware update sorted out connection problems but it was lacking in one thing, a clock that that was on all the time (well you could but the battery would die within about an hour).

My live view had some cool features but was never the killer product that i would normally wear, this looks like it might fill that void.

TBH 1 week battery life isnt that bad, especially when you consider that most new smart phones wont last much more than a day on average use, i cant see the issue with charging it once a week.

They could though add a nice little calculator solar cell, im sure that would extend the life by some degree.

£100 seems a little steep though, liveview came in at £50 and play had it for sale reacently for £13, i think £50 would be a more acceptable price.

i will be keeping a close eye on this product as it come to market, i wont jump on the first shipment either......

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Since we're on the subject of watches and phones, you know what I've always wanted? A phone built into a pocket watch. IT would be marvellous. I have no idea why, it just would be.

Anyway I shall be looking out for these. I wonder though, do they keep time when you haven't got your phone with you? If it can be used as "just a watch" as well, it'll be great.

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Samsung did it

Samsung did such thing or lg, it even has video call I remember.

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I don't get one thing

So, people become micro angel investors and the product gets started. Why don't they get anything back when product becomes successful?

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Windows

Titter!

I've three portable timepieces. my N8, a wristwatch called a "Fossil", and a 120-year old Waltham gold pocket watch, strapped on a lanyard from a USB memory stick. Guess which keeps accurate time (within a couple of seconds)?

ALL OF THEM!

(Oh, did anyone else notice all 3 watches in the piccie are displaying different times)???

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Please make it wind-up

... or like the watch on my wrist that is powered by the every day movement of my hand.

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Devil

Re: Please make it wind-up

"...watch on my wrist that is powered by the every day movement of my hand."

I had one of those when I was a teenager. It exploded.

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Missed a trick...

USB charging socket is a weakness. This doesn't need much juice.

Why not a magnetic coupler?

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Let's wait and see

I was tempted to jump in on this (not that they need any more) but decided against it. The watch looks great but there have been many before it that have looked good and had me salivating at their potential but then failed to deliver when reviewed. I'll wait until they're available for general sale and I know if I'm getting what I thought I was getting.

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Go

aye

not read the original article. If you can have induction charging this wont be too bad.

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$3m now

And still a month to go.

Why yes, I do want one.

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Battery life

I personally would never wear a watch that needs to be charged every 7 days. In my mind, a watch runs for ages without needing to worry about it. That said, an e-ink watch sounds really really intriguing....

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Nice

And its already on course to be the most highly funded Kickstarter campaign ever, a month before it closes.

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Anonymous Coward

"Perhaps more usefully, Google Maps"

I don't see why the pebble cannot display Google maps.. all it needs to do is receive an image from the phone as you walk.. Phone app tx to pebble. too easy surely.

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