We would wear our smartphones on our bodies if we could — now Pebble makes that possible. Pebble is a watch that syncs to your iPhone or Android and makes your smartphone more accessible by being on your wrist.
The promo video on the group’s Kickstarter page shows a man wearing the watch while doing dishes; he just looks at his wrist to see the number of the incoming call. In another video example of Pebble’s usefulness, a woman is running and simply switches songs on her iPhone by clicking the watch rather than taking a bulky-by-comparison phone out of her pocket or purse.
The device doesn’t create new apps, but uses existing ones on your smartphone. It grabs your music, apps and even alerts you to incoming calls with the number appearing on the screen, and shows text messages.
With a battery lasting seven days, a glare-proof e-paper screen and Bluetooth capabilities, the demand for this watch quickly surged after its Kickstarter campaign launched in April. Eric Migicovsky and his team of six developed Pebble and launched an amazingly successful Kickstarter campaign that raised $10.6 million — its goal was $100,000. Ironically, the group couldn’t find funding for their watch at first.
Sure, not everyone wants to be connected to their phone 24/7, which is perhaps why Pebble has myriad useful functions. The watch doubles as a pedometer, with GPS and an accelerometer that works for bicyclists. How often do you go for a run, bike ride or workout at the gym and check your phone for messages or missed calls? The watch makes it easier to see who’s trying to get in touch with you, all while providing a useful function (pedometer) during your workout.
Since launching an open SDK, anyone can create an app for Pebble.
Inspiration Behind the Pebble Watch
Other smartphone-enabled watches were for Android devices only. In fact, Migicovsky was the maker of an Android-only watch called InPulse, developed in 2010. A number of features on the Pebble were improvements to the InPulse, says Rahul Bhagat, head of operations for Pebble.
“The idea was rooted in finding efficient ways of better supporting people’s lifestyles with the information they have available to them,” Bhagat says. “These days, a large segment of the population carries around smartphones, which have access to all sorts of data. Unfortunately, the smartphone form factor is not conducive to making the best of this information — every time you want to know who’s calling or check your pace while on a run for example, you need to grab your phone out of your pocket, bag or purse. Many times, that just detracts from the task you were doing in the first place.”
Changing the Game
The makers of Pebble categorize it as a “wrist-worn smart device.” Customers have the ability to choose from a variety of faces and eventually, apps, to use on the watch. The open SDK, week-long battery life and price of the watch sets it apart from other similar designs on the market, Bhagat says.
“Pebble is a take on wearable technology that aims to better disseminate information through a wrist worn form factor. In many cases, it’s less distracting and provides a more efficient method of getting the information you need rather than having to grasp a phone,” he says.
From the Kickstarter campaign, the team now has 68,000 orders for about 85,000 watches. Pebble ships to Kickstarter backers this fall and to the general public in the first quarter of 2013.
Bhagat said he imagines people will initially be drawn to purchasing the watch due to its customizable interfaces. “But as they customize Pebble and download apps that are more directly applicable to them, I think people will really appreciate the utility that a wrist worn smart device can have,” he added.
“I would like to think that Pebble is part of a larger movement towards consumer electronics that better integrate with user’s daily lives while minimizing disruptions that occur while using them,” says Bhagat.
What do you think about the Pebble watch? Would you buy one? Tell us in the comments.