The Watchy Arduino e-paper is an open-source smartwatch that could be seen as somewhat of a Pebble replacement. It comes from an outfit called Squarofumi.
Pebble watches still have a loyal following. That’s despite the fact that the company has not been around for a few years now.
It was eaten up by Fitbit in 2016 which then used its hardware and software expertise to develop and improve its smartwatches and operating system. The San Francisco wearables manufacturer kept Pebble servers going until end June 2018, but that is when support ended.
Out of those rubbles a community appeared which is still active. It is centered around RebbleOS, an alternative to the PebbleOS. The software doesn’t have all the old functionality, at least not yet, but it does keep Pebble watches working.
Watchy Arduino e-paper smartwatch
The 3D printed Watch Arduino e-paper smartwatch might pique the interest of Pebble fans. It has open source hardware and software, along with a functional barebones design. The hackable timepiece therefore allows for lots of customization opportunities. You even have the option of using different 3D printed cases and watch straps.
As far as actual specs, Watchy comes with a 3-Axis Accelerometer allowing it to detect gesture motions. So no heart rate monitor or the ability to churn out advanced fitness and sleep stats. There’s WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, a vibration motor for notifications and a built in USB Serial Adapter.
Powered by the ESP32 chip, the square watch has a large monochromatic 1.54 inch e-paper display (200 x 200 pixels). These types of screens are crisp and visible in bright sunny conditions. They also have the benefit of not needing too much power to operate. You can make this your own by choosing from a plethora of watch faces. Around the sides of the body are 4 programmable tactile buttons.
In the box you get a fully assembled watch PCB. There’s also the e-paper display, a 200mAh battery, a watch strap and adhesive tape. Putting the whole thing together should not be too arduous. Detailed instructions are available on-line, along with, source code, design files and more.
All in all this seems like a decent little offering for DIY fans and those that like open source hardware and software. The simple, no-nonsense design might appeal to Pebble fans. Think of it as a less premium looking version of the Pebble watches. After all, it would be pretty difficult to 3D print a steel case!
What is also missing is proper water-resistance. Considering you are putting the thing together with adhesive tape, that would be impossible. Finally, while the screen does look good, there doesn’t appear to be a blacklight so forget about using the watch in the dark.
But the added value is in the fact that you can program Watchy to do what you want. As long as you know coding.
This extends far beyond simple watch faces. Bluetooth is on-board for communicating with smartphones, plus there’s WiFi for connecting to the internet. The company has posted comprehensive documentation and Arduino code examples for every hardware feature.
Availability and price
The timepiece costs less than $50 and can be picked up from tindie.com. It is currently out of stock but you can sign up to get notified when they have more quantities.
Even if Watchy is not a full replacement to the Pebble watch, it might be a stepping stone Pebble fans have been waiting for. It’s not an out of the box solution like the Pebble, but it might pave the road for a proper replacement.
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