A Kickstarter project to bring a new smartwatch to market blew through its $100,000 funding goal in its first day, and two hours later it crossed the $200,000 mark. As a result, the Pebble E-Paper Watch should be coming to market within the next few months with an an expected retail price of more than $150. Smartwatches aren’t exactly new, but what’s unique about the Pebble is that it works with both Android devices and the iPhone.
I’ve tested a handful of smartwatches in the past year: Wearable devices that communicate with smartphones over a Bluetooth connection. These do more than just tell the time, of course. Thanks to the wireless link, smartphone data can be sent to the watch. Think calendar alerts, SMS and text messages, emails and incoming Caller ID information, for example. Some even run full apps. Until now, however, none have worked with the iPhone.
According the team behind Pebble, their solution was to join the Made for iPhone (MFi) program and license Apple’s technology for use with the smartwatch. It’s this program that manufacturers use for hardware that’s compatible with Apple’s 30-pin connector, such as docks, clock radios and cables.
The Pebble itself looks sleek and slick. It uses an e-ink type of display that’s readable indoors and out. When paired with a phone and the proper apps, it can be used as an exercise tracker with GPS support. You can control the music on a smartphone with the Pebble, and various notifications are readily available with one exception: SMS only works with Android phones as Apple doesn’t allow external devices to tap into these on the phone.
You can still get in on the Pebble funding; a minimum pledge of $115 or more gets you a Jet Black Pebble once the smartwatches debut. I wouldn’t wait if you want one though: In the time it took me to write this post, another $25,000 was raised for the project!