Pebble encourages smartstrap developers with $1m support fund

There was much excitement last month when Pebble announced the Pebble Time, the successor to its first smartwatch effort. There was even more excitement when the startup revealed that the watch’s design is set to incorporate so-called smartstraps, allowing users to choose their strap (or straps) according to the functionality they’re after.

Adding electronics and sensors to Times’s swappable strap instead of building them into the watch’s body was a shrewd move by Pebble, and one that has gained much praise in the tech press since its announcement.

$1-million fund

Now it needs third-party hardware developers to build those smartstraps, the first of which it hopes to release in the summer, when the watch itself launches. In an effort to encourage involvement in its bold bid to add a whole lot more functionality to its devices, Pebble on Thursday announced a $1-million fund.

“If you have an idea and want to be part of the smartstrap revolution, this is your chance,” the company said on its Kickstarter page. “Get a team together, build a prototype and put your project up on a crowdfunding platform. Our team will work to help bring your idea to life.”

The California-based company said it’ll be scouring crowdfunding sites for smartstrap ideas and offering support for the best ones. Smartstrap developers are also encouraged to contact the company directly to let them know exactly what they’re working on.

“We truly understand the value of backing projects in their early state, having started that way ourselves,” Pebble said.

Hoping to inspire the developer community to get tinkering, the company posted a couple of concepts from the “ton of ideas” it’s already seen.

These include the exciting Xadow modular smartstrap system (shown in the gallery above) from Seeed Studio that lets users attach a bunch of snap-on modules, each offering anything from NFC readers to OLED displays to GPS units.

Then, from Spark.io, there’s the Spark Electron (also above), a design which is obviously in the early stages of development but one which could ultimately allow the Pebble to connect to a cellular network, offering wearers a little more freedom from their smartphone.

Pebble said it decided to move ahead with smartstraps because it didn’t want to waste time and resources “trying to shove every sensor and doohickey” into the Pebble Time. Looking at these early concepts, and with its $1-million funding scheme now in place, we can’t wait to see what the company unveils in the coming months.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robotic companions and computer-aided karaoke

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!
Movies & TV

Want free movie tickets? Beam these ads into your eyeballs for 15 minutes

Would you watch ads for 20 minutes to earn a free movie ticket? MoviePass co-founder Stacy Spikes bets you will, and he's launching PreShow, a new app with some pretty advanced technology, to prove it.
Mobile

Apple patent suggests Apple Watch bands could have built-in fitness indicators

Apple may be exploring ways to make Apple Watch bands a little more useful. A new patent has been filed by Apple that suggests Apple Watch bands could eventually have indicators for things like fitness goals.
Gaming

From PUBG to Apex Legends, this is how battle royale happened

Battle royale games like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds’ and Fortnite have become the biggest trend in video games. The genre is also pushing the envelope in Twitch streaming and eSports.
Wearables

The Tacs Nato-Lens is a watch for those who live life through a camera lens

Not all watches have to be round, or connect to your phone. The Tacs Nato-Lens is a stylish piece of wristwear with a design inspired by classic SLR cameras, making it a geeky timepiece for the camera and watch fan.
Wearables

Alpina makes its AlpinerX smartwatch even more attractive with new colors

Alpina has introduced four new colors to its AlpinerX smartwatch range, breaking the usually sporty watch out into a more everyday casual design, and given the tech a slight makeover too.
Wearables

This $76,000 Grand Seiko watch has something in common with a plug-in hybrid car

How can a watch that costs $76,000 possibly have anything in a common with any car, let alone a plug-in hybrid? It's all about the complex, technically incredible Spring Drive movement inside this Grand Seiko watch.
Mobile

New gold finish makes Frederique Constant’s hybrid smartwatch flashier than ever

Frederique Constant has found considerable success with its luxury hybrid smartwatch, the Hybrid Manufacture, and has launched several new color schemes to help bring it even more attention.
Wearables

Like a car, this watch has dampers on the strap to make it more comfortable

Like a car, this stunning luxury watch has shock absorbing dampers that attach the strap to the case, rather than a more traditional system, to increase comfort. We've worn one, and it really seems to work.
Wearables

Tag Heuer’s Golf Edition smartwatch is a lot more than just a flash of new color

Tag Heuer's Golf Edition Connected Modular 45 smartwatch has a lot more going for it than just a flashy new color scheme. From the titanium body and black PVD coating to the new Golf app, this is a true special edition.
Product Review

Fitbit’s Inspire HR fitness tracker nails the basics and keeps the price low

Fitbit targets the new user with the Inspire HR, a low-cost, lightweight fitness tracker that covers all the basics. I put the device through its paces. It not only lived up to our expectations for an entry-level tracker, but sometimes…
Apple

Apple March 2019 Event Coverage

Apple’s next event will take place March 25 at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California at 10 a.m. PT. We’ve got a handy guide on how to watch, but don’t expect to see any new iPads, iMacs, or AirPods at the show, all of…
Wearables

Looking to get in shape for the new year? Snag one of these fitness trackers

Looking for your first fitness tracker, or an upgrade to the one you're already wearing? There are plenty of the wrist-worn gadgets available. Here are our picks for the best fitness trackers available right now.
Deals

It’s time to check out the best Apple Watch deals for March 2019

The Apple Watch has surged to prominence in recent years. If you're in the market for an iOS wearable, we've sniffed out the best Apple Watch deals available right now for all three models of this great smartwatch.