The creators of the Pebble watch, one of the most successful projects ever launched on Kickstarter, have announced the innovative little device will begin shipping on January 23. The news came during a press conference held by the team at CES 2013, where further details were revealed and the watch itself was demonstrated.
For those who haven’t heard of the Pebble, it’s a customizable smart watch which connects via Bluetooth to your iPhone or Android smartphone. The screen measures 1.26-inches and has a resolution of 144 x 168, and it’ll display not only a watch face, but also notifications, emails, music controls, and information from other apps – all directly from your phone.
The black and white screen may look like an E-ink panel, but it’s actually an LCD variant called E-paper, chosen due to its vastly improved refresh rate. In the demonstration, the screen looked fluid and usable, unlike a prototype E-ink phone we saw recently. Weighing in at 38 grams with a waterproof body and polyurethane strap, the Pebble is ideal for sports use. On the subject of the strap, it’s an industry standard size, so can be swapped out for any regular watch strap.
Charging the Pebble entails attaching a custom USB cable with a magnetic charging strap, which appeared to work in a similar way to inductive charging systems. It was chosen to avoid shipping the device with a bulky dock, and to ensure the body was kept watertight. During the on stage demo, a tap to wake feature using an internal accelerometer was shown, as was the interface for altering the watch faces and browsing incoming notifications.
Future proofing Pebble
In the future, third-party app developers will be able to build support for the Pebble into their software, but initially a software development kit won’t be available, as the team felt it was best to get the core user experience right before opening it up to others. The watch also has several features which won’t be enabled at first, including Bluetooth 4.0, an ambient light sensor, and digital compass support. However, these will gradually be activated through software updates.
The Pebble is compatible with Android phones running 2.3.3 Gingerbread and above, plus iOS 5 and up, although if you do own an iPhone, it was stated the watch works best on iOS 6 devices thanks to its improved Bluetooth profile. iOS users will also enjoy iMessage notifications alongside SMS.
So when’s it coming? Pebble will be sending out the first orders on January 23 at a rate of 15,000 per week, and Kickstarter project backers will get them in the order they joined up. It’s expected to take six to eight weeks to complete this phase, then it’ll be on to the pre-orders placed through the website. Pebble has no plans to expand to retail, so if you want one, the website is still the only place to get one, where it costs $150.