With a little over a week left in its Kickstarter project, and nearly $10 million in funding, Eric Migicovsky, creater of the smartphone-connected Pebble watch is a happy camper. To celebrate the announcement of Pebble’s support of Bluetooth 4.0, Migicovsky took to Reddit in an AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) interview, and revealed everything that we’ve been waiting to hear about the hot little wrist-piece.
Migicovsky began working on smartwatches in 2008, when an early smartwatch prototype started as a dorm room hack four years ago at TU Delft. The initial version used an Arduino open-source microcontroller and an old-school cell phone. (See below.) Two years later, the beta version of inPulse, a Blackberry watch, was launched, and the inPulse team received some seed funding from startup incubator YCombinator in 2011. Unfortunately, the team failed to raise YCombinator capital and had little success approaching venture capitalists.
The disappointment didn’t last long. By September, 85,000 copies of the first version of the Pebble watch will be shipped worldwide among nearly 63,000 backers (as of May 9). It’s a far cry from the team’s original expectation of producing 1,000 watches before embarking on the Kickstarter campaign. The team has smashed the Kickstarter record for funding, and collected its initial goal of $100,000 in a matter of two hours, and had surpassed $200,00 within four hours.
The Pebble crew is a ten person startup, which Migicovsky says is working around the clock on perfecting the software. Regardless of the team’s heavy workload, Migicovsky assures that backers will receive a Pebble in the order in which they were purchased. In the future, says Migicovsky, the production phase will bolstered upon the purchase of a MakerBot replicator.
The team announced yesterday the release of its support for Bluetooth 4.0. Another previously undisclosed feature revealed by Migicovsky is Pebble’s 1.26-inch Sharp Memory LCD Display. The benefit of the display is that it requires minimal power, which contributes to the smartwatch’s 7-day battery life. While the battery is rechargeable, it is unfortunately not removable.
Any updates pushed to Pebble will require that it syncs to its accompanying smartphone. Unless the Pebble remains within the smartphone’s Bluetooth range, it will be unable to receive updates.
The team has also set a tentative launch date for the open source SDK in August.
It’s apparent that the Pebble team is already thinking about the second iteration of its smartwatch. Possible future features include casual games, Rumbatime integration, and multi-language support.