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Build Your Own Pebble-Like E-Paper Smartwatch with This $50 Kit

Watchy's schematic

It’s time to set aside your expensive Apple Watch and go back to the basics. SQFMI’s open-source Watchy forgoes fancy features for a simple design, an 1.54-inch e-paper display, a nearly weeklong battery life, and endless options for customization. At just $50 (on sale for $45 at the time of writing), the Watchy kit is perfect for those who want to ditch their Apple Watch or build a custom smartwatch from the ground up.

As smartwatches get more and more complicated, I can’t help but wonder where things went wrong. The first “real” smartwatch, called the Pebble, didn’t bother with superfluous features and boasted a 7-day battery life thanks to its e-paper display. Unlike today’s smartwatches from Apple and Fitbit, the Pebble didn’t cost a fortune, it didn’t need to be charged everyday, and it didn’t bother you with unnecessary features.

In that way, Watchy is like a spiritual successor to Pebble. It’s cheap, it has a long battery life (5 to 7 days with Wi-Fi turned off), and it doesn’t bother with features like sleep tracking or heart-rate monitoring. Watchy vibrates when you get a notification, it shows you the temperature, it counts your steps, and that’s about it. The included Wi-Fi and gesture support allow you to control Spotify or shake away phone calls, but again, Watchy is pretty bare-bones out of the box.

A photo of Watchy with a custom Tetris watchface and Gameboy case
Watchy with a custom ‘Tetris’ watchface and Gameboy case. SQFMI

But that’s where you, the genius programmer, can finally shine. Watchy is hacker-friendly and open source, enabling you to code your own watchfaces, 3D print your a custom watch case, upgrade the watch’s hardware, or rewrite everything from the ground up. It’s hard to find wearables with this level of customization, especially at a price that puts some Raspberry Pi products to shame.

You can order a Watchy kit on Tindie for just $50 (on sale for $45 at the time of writing). Keep in mind that the kit doesn’t come with a watch strap (standard straps will fit), and it requires some very basic tool-free assembly. I suggest looking through some Watchy documentation on SQFMI’s website before pulling the plug, especially if you’re an ambitious DIY-er who wants to make the most of Watchy.

Source: SQFMI via Gizmodo

Andrew Heinzman Andrew Heinzman
Andrew is the News Editor for Review Geek, where he covers breaking stories and manages the news team. He joined Life Savvy Media as a freelance writer in 2018 and has experience in a number of topics, including mobile hardware, audio, and IoT. Read Full Bio »