There’s a reason some smartwatches are bulky and large — it’s hard to engineer a device with advanced computing components in such a small, fashionable frame.
There’s basically a choice between functionality and aesthetics: the better-looking watches are more limited in functionality, while the watches that offer more features are typically larger.
Pebble, however, has a clever way to solve this problem. Instead of building extra components into its newest watch, the Pebble Time, the company is allowing anyone to make custom straps for the watch that come with new features.
One wristband, for instance, might feature a 3G radio so that you can use the watch without tethering it to your phone. Maybe another strap would come with an extra battery to keep your Pebble alive longer.
The company announced this program in February, but on Thursday it said it’s contributing $US1 million toward developing these so-called “smart straps” through Kickstarter. Pebble says it will be keeping an eye on Kickstarter projects related to its “smart strap” project and will use the $US1 million to back the best ones. That doesn’t mean every idea will get funding from Pebble, though.
Pebble cites two examples in its announcement post — one is a modular design from company SeeedStudio that lets you swap out individual parts of the band. You could put a heart rate monitor or GPS sensor in the band, for example.
The other idea comes from Spark.io — a strap with cellular connectivity built-in.
Pebble’s smart strap program is appealing because watch owners will be able to add and remove features as they please. The company has a giant backing in the developer community, especially on Kickstarter. When the original Pebble launched in 2012, developers created dozens of personalised, niche watchfaces that any user can download. It wouldn’t be surprising to see a similar level of interest in this program.