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, 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.

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