Despite owning four, including the original Pebble, I’ve been somewhat skeptical about smart watches. However the announcement by Pebble that their new Pebble Time watch will have a ‘smart strap’ is intriguing.
The Smartstrap is remarkably open, and offers the potential to integrate maker-made hardware directly into Pebble’s existing ecosystem. Like Apple’s iPhone before it, the smartstrap could therefore turn out to be a powerful lever to drive adoption of an entire category of devices.
The first company to commit to support the Smartstrap was Seeedstudio. The Xadow connector announced by SeeedStudio allows you to talk to their Xadow Main Board and is Arduino compatible, talking to the Pebble via the Smartstrap interface using the One-wire serial protocol. However until today at Maker Faire, no actual hardware had been seen in public.
We talked to Thomas Sarlandie — a developer evangelist at Pebble — about their new watch the Pebble Time, and the dueling Sumo Bots you can control with it, and we also see SeeedStudio’s Smartstrap for the very first time.
Building your own Smartstrap seems to be fairly straightforward, and Pebble have posted mechanical details of the strap along with assembly instructions allowing you to build your own. The only part of the strap not available off-the-shelf is the adaptor, and they have made available STP and STL files allowing you to print your own — the adaptor has already been uploaded to Shapeways.
They have also provided a simple suggested circuit — using a single buffer/driver voltage level convertor with Zener diodes for ESD protection — to connect a “normal” RX/TX serial connection you might use with and Arduino to the smartstrap.
Of course if you do build your own Smartstrap, there’s the opportunity to dip into Pebble’s $1 million fund set up to encourage the development, and commercialization, of Smartstrap projects for Pebble devices.