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Hack together your own e-paper smartwatch with this $50 open-source kit (theverge.com)
121 points by laktak 10 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 41 comments



Already sold out :(.

I love the DIY aspect of this. I hate wearing watches, but with something like this I can 3D print my own belt loop or other style case to experiment with other forms of wearable.


Would make a really neat desk clock too!


PineTime is even cheaper and probably more powerful, but looks less approachable than arduino.

https://pine64.com/product/pinetime-dev-kit/?v=0446c16e2e66


Also, unless I'm mistaken, not e-ink.


I keep thinking that e-Ink is way overrated, and the fact that a large chunk people do not seem to distinguish Pebble (which is an LCD) from actual e-Ink devices only reinforces it.

Not saying that I like "backlight" watches (I don't), but there's a large selection of reflective LCD watches (e.g. most traditional sport/GPS ones, Garmin, Suunto, etc.) which are indistinguishable from the Pebble in terms of display.

e-Ink at this point is just $$ and slow refresh. For most users, at least.


Interesting point here. I've recently been thinking about why e-ink hasn't gotten more market saturation, and you make a good point that LCD watches look the same as e-ink, but have more customizability.

Just for example, do you have any specific watches that you like the most for their LCD look?

And where would you go purchase small LCD screens? I'm not familiar with online marketplaces that do that, although I'm sure I can do some of my own research and find some.


Just wanted to add a nuance to the Pebble comment. Yes, it is a reflective LCD. But, it is also a pixel in memory LCD that has much lower standby power usage. Unless I'm wrong, I'm fairly certain this tech is patented by Sharp and isn't scaled up to larger screen sizes. This makes it sometimes difficult to source these screens (and oftentimes difficult to source large quantities)


> why e-ink hasn't gotten more market saturation

It's proprietary; patented by one company.


Please try to explain yourself. Apple makes proprietary products and gets huge levels of market saturation. So it is unclear what you're saying. There was already a past discussion showing that e-ink being proprietary is not the reason why electrophoretic displays are more popular. In short, cost of development and market volume is the bigger reason why it has not gotten more saturation. There's no patent blocking development of electrophoretic displays and this can be seen by the many startup and larger entrants into the space like fujitsu, liquavista-amazon, qualcom/apple-mirasol who tried to scale up production and then failed.


Are these LCD watch display always?


Some are transreflective, like the Amazfit Bip[1], which though it isn't perfect, is pretty decent overall.

1: https://www.cnet.com/reviews/amazfit-bip-review/


Yes they are. Just the backlight is not always on, putting them in reflective mode (again, exactly like the Pebble does).


Yes, not e-ink. But it has a heart rate monitor.


definitely not. And in the dev kit the halves are not even glued together yet :)


They're intentionally not glued together so devs can dev. Seems reasonable.


Totally :)

Just different to the arduino one.


"The PineTime Dev Kit aimed solely for development purpose only, this is not for end user who is looking for ready to wear Smart Watch. More specifically, only intend for these units to find their way into the hands of developer with extensive embedded OS experience and an interest in Smart Watch development."


Look for a Colmi P8. I got mine for 15USD!

Received it today and hadn't time to play with it yet.


I want to avoid closed source with any trackers :)


The Colmi P8 is the same hardware and looks that the PineTime. There is an arduino firmware for it!

https://github.com/Jac-eko/p8-smartwatch-hacking


Oh cool. Didn't understand that.

Even a js firmware for me front-end guy. Cool!


I hate both most modern and diy smartwatches visually for different reasons, but this strikes a nice balance.

The ESP32 is a great SoC!

I tend to shower with my current watch simply for convenience. While I can get over that without issues, I find it's missing a button. The Pebble Time has a great UI for music control requiring 3 buttons (up/pause/down) and a back button that is incredibly convenient and I just haven't seen matched anywhere yet.

I think I actually prefer this project over the Pine Time because it has E-Paper, no touch screen, it looks nice and developing for it may be simpler.


Very cool! I like the idea of smart watches but don't really like the walled ecosystems or incentives of smart devices manufacturers to sell user data. Unfortunately it seems sold out for now.


Yeah, I don't really like the idea of smart watches at all, but the price is low, and the form factor seems reasonable, so I put myself on the notify list.

(I use the timer on an F91-W to time my coffee brewing, and that's about as smart as I need a watch to be. But hey, it's programmable, a timer preset for different brewing methods that buzzed but continued when I needed to do a step sounds nice.)


I owned one of the original Pebble watches. My takeaway was that without significant phone interoperability, a smart watch is primarily useful for notifications and not much else.

I want to like this, but even if it gets back in stock I wouldn’t get it.


Another original Pebble kickstarter here. I still feel that "smart" watches peaked with Pebble. Long battery life, physical buttons / no touch-screen, waterproof, shows notifications / allows basic actions to be taken on them. That's all I wanted from a smart watch, and it provided it all!

I don't know who decided that I need to be able to make and receive calls on my watch, have a color screen, or any number of the other "new features" modern smart watches push. I wouldn't mind a HRM, but I'd still prefer a 1-week battery life.


I really like my TicWatch Pro. Obviously it's underpowered, has too little RAM and storage, and the GOOG badness makes me sad.

That said, it allows me to read my heart rate, reply to messages, have a customisable Linux terminal prompt tell the time/date, and store an SSH key for when I need it.

This is the peak, IMHO.

The next peak will be when it doesn't have teh GOOG OS.

Things move slowly, but I'm getting a PinePhone (just had the email about Brexit messing up shipping) because if we can help get a proper OS onto devices, we should.

Nothing should peak so early that it gets forgotten about for another "generation".


I really want to know more about the usecase of having to store SSH key on your watch.


You know when you're marching on the Capitol and you've left your phone at home so the Feds don't know it's you and you nick Pelosi's laptop then need to SCP (or rsync over SSH seeing as SCP is getting binned) all the files back to your server?

Nah, me either. Especially as I'm in England. Please don't send the black helicopters.

Having something critical on your watch (PGP/SSH) means you're never stuck without it. I'd love to be able to plug it in as a bootable USB with Tails on. I seem to recall someone doing that for phones so it might be possible!

The reason I always need keys... Mum uses Linux (my choice) and I admin it from 200 miles away when she can't get her game to run.


Fossil HR Hybrid ticks most of your needs. It isn't waterproof as a Pebble, though buttons on my Pebble 2 disintegrated (I also had a Pebble 1 KS edition). Doesn't have touch screen. Battery life 2 weeks (approx). Shows notifications, can control music, doesn't have color. You can even put the smart display off, or customize it (slightly). It has 3 buttons. What I miss is an option to put Bluetooth off.


These do seem nice! I'd like waterproofing for swimming, but in reality it's not a deal breaker.


Garmin is your friend here. Ticks all those boxes + 10 day battery life with regular use.


I've looked into Garmin as they seem fairly rugged and seem nice for hiking/biking/running, but wow are they expensive. I struggle to pull the trigger on what is essentially a computer with a limited lifetime.


I've had my Garmin for about a year and it's great. I don't intend to replace it for many years. I got it on sale, I think that's the key.


I wanted to make my own apps on a cheap smart watch that I don't have to charge every day and came across http://banglejs.com/. It has some small bugs, but the battery life is incredible and they have their own nifty app store.


Great! Just today received my Colmi P8, which is based on a nRF52832 SoC, same as yours!

I'm going to try wasp-os, based on python, but will definitely give banglejs a spin.


Looks neat. Signed up for the wait list. Not sure I'll wear it as a watch, though, just looks like it my be interesting for some other project(s). Or just something fun to code.


If you search for e-ink you'll find other programmables as well


I would love a tablet for reading PDFs, like literally just mirror my phone instead of even processing anything on it


Not ePaper but cool and recent https://github.com/FASTSHIFT/WatchX ... unfortunately not designed with KiCad.


This + LoRa and we're golden!




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