DIY OLED Smart Watch

OLED DIY Smart Watch

What is better than making your own smart watch? Making one with an OLED display. This is exactly what [Jared] set out to do with his DIY OLED smart watch, which combines an impressive build with some pretty cool hardware.

When building a DIY smart watch, getting the hardware right is arguably the hardest part. After a few iterations, [Jared’s] OLED smart watch is all packaged up and looks great! The firmware for his watch can communicate with the PC via USB HID (requiring no drivers), contains a “watch face” for telling time, includes an integrated calendar, and support for an accelerometer. His post also includes all of the firmware and goes into some build details. With the recent popularity of smart watches and wearable electronics, we really love seeing functional DIY versions. This is just the beginning. In the future, [Jared] plans on adding Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), a magnetometer, a smart sleep based alarm clock, and more! So be sure to look at his two older posts and keep an eye on this project as it unfolds. It is a very promising smart watch!

With Android L including support for smart watches (in the near future), it would be amazing to see DIY watches (such as this one) modified to run the new mobile OS. How great would it be to have an open hardware platform running such a powerful (open source-ish) OS? the possibilities are endless!

48 thoughts on “DIY OLED Smart Watch

  1. The modern definition of ‘smart’ is ‘spying on you for the government and big corporations’, so perhaps for our own projects not going for that angle another word should be used.
    MCU watches, integrated watches? Complex watches? IA watches? Something other than ‘smart’

    1. I doubt the Pebble smartwatch is “spying” on anything, given its only sensor is an accelerometer. But keep tweaking that tinfoil hat, you don’t want to let any spurious signals in to scan your brain!

      1. “given its only sensor is an accelerometer. ”

        Yeah all the hackers will be able to figure out is, EVERY THING you do you with your hands like: entering pin numbers and passwords, handwritten account numbers, etc.

        yeah no risk at all!

        1. Also has a magnetometer to determine your compass position. and who mentioned the pebble anyway? Isn’t the pebble part of history now rather than a current product? And the other watches also measure your heartrate and have microphones and such. Plus of course they all log the time and actions you do on it, like responding to notifications. There are many things you could learn from it if you had the wish (and unfortunately insane heavily funded groups do).

          And my point is the word. In fact due to the rather meagre processing on the current watches many are not even sure it can be called ‘smart’, even among people who happily call anything ‘smart’.

          Incidentally, I saw a headline that they found out the NSA was collecting baby pictures… so yeah right they would not be interested in data from ‘smart’watches.
          I really think that to suggest any data is NOT being captured at this moment is pretty much the ‘mad conspiracy theory’ that would need some serious corroborating evidence..

          As for the project: That’s the way to do it really, make your own electronic watch type interface device, because even if it has sensors it will not be in the spooks’ ‘dumb GUI’ and they won’t easily gather data from it. Plus you are more likely to hit functions you want but are annoyingly missing on the commercial variants.

          1. “There are many things you could learn from it if you had the wish (and unfortunately insane heavily funded groups do).”

            “because even if it has sensors it will not be in the spooks’ ‘dumb GUI’ and they won’t easily gather data from it.”

            quite a trick you have there, talking from both sides of your mouth at the same time

          2. The original Pebble is still sold, and the new version, Pebble Steel, came out earlier this year. Hardly “ancient history”.

            You brought up the concept of smartwatches spying on us, by talking about smart devices in a comment to an article about building a smartwatch. It wasn’t a cognitive leap at all, merely an example.

            As for the rest (and the comment above yours), I highly doubt that there’s enough valid data from the accelerometer in the Pebble to determine the numbers I push on a keyboard or keypad; my wrist stays fairly still when typing. I can maybe see being paired with a GPS based mapping app on the phone to determine direction of travel and speed…but then its would be irrelevant compared to what the phone itself gathers with its GPS receiver and much more accurate accelerometer.

            In short, calm your tits because no one is using a Pebble to spy on you, and certainly not a device you build yourself, as in the article.

    2. I agree with calling these kinds of watches as something else, other than smart. Though, I disagree with the spying stuff. Kaidenshi is spot on on his example, although these watches are connected on your phone, and has various sensors makes it impossible to spy on you. If anything is mischievous about these smart watches, I’m sure it’s going to be the included apps that would have access to your phone’s data.

      1. a light sensor can give away position data: indoors, outdoors, etc. Over time if it sees sunlight enough, you can get rough latitude and longitude.

        an accelerometer on the wrist can give away a password or a PIN, if it’s sensitive enough it can reveal health issues in the individual: nervous system issues, heart rate etc.

        But don’t worry, nobody will EVER take advantage of these things, if you pull the wool over your eyes tight enough

        1. An accelerometer anywhere on your body, arm included, can trace your path as you travel. Arm movement will average out, body movement can be measured and give you a path by dead reckoning. It’s not massively accurate though, errors accumulate fast. But combined with, say, a street map, you could I bet plot someone’s path a fair distance.

          1. street maps are not sensors and they will not get you any data

            what technology did you use to determine the starting point of the relative path that you got from the accelerometer? did you get a compass heading too?

            accelerometers are even worse than you think, great for nintendo and protecting the rotating media in your laptop but useless for absolute positioning.

            believe it or not, human beings can transport themselves through buildings and across roadless areas using remarkable devices called feet, so your maps will not be able to reproduce or trace a path made by a human

            and what happens when your subject gets in a car or an elevator or a ferry boat or a subway? ever seen low-res accelerometer data from a moving vehicle on a rough road? it would make a good random number generator.

          2. I have some experience with sensor fusion. With a gyroscope, accelerometer and magnetometer is is quite easy to calculate the orientation of the sensor package. The step rate of a person is easy to discover from accelerometer data if you can correlate to other inertial sensors, especially if it is mounted on the wrist, since most people move their arms when walking. Sadly this does not give you information on how fast the person is walking, but that can be inferred with a map and stays relatively constant in a single journey. Biggest difficulty is knowing the starting point, but for dead-reckoning applications where you have that from GPS or some other positioning system you can bridge quite a long gap in GNSS coverage with acceptable accuracy for navigation. With the watch you could maybe start from the users home and see if it matches with a map you got.

            In a car or bike, as you said, the accelerometer data is bad and not really useful. For dead-reckoning they typically use wheel angle sensors and the tachometer pulse, which works perfectly if you are not drifting all the time. Of course not really applicable to a watch.

    3. Well what is it? It’s a remote input/output device, an interface, for a phone. We could call it: wearable interface, alternate interface, secondary interface, I/O watch, terminal watch or the shortened term watch, terminal bracelet, tty-watch or the shortened tt-watch, wrist client, etc etc. I like the sound of “2IO” which is a shortened version of “secondary I/O”.

      We only call it a watch because we wear watches on our wrists. It’s a smart watch because it’s a more powerful watch, but really is a wearable terminal rather than an upgraded watch. Just think of what the device is for and how the device is used. Keep slapping words together until you get something that sounds cool.

      When they get cameras built in they’ll be called “quick-deploy selfie machines”

      1. We have something called smartphones. How many times at day do you use them for call? And for using apps, browse the Internet, take pictures …? They are pocket computers, but we are still refe them phones ;P

        1. “computer” is really not such a good word for a device that also contains mass storage or a display, we ONLY call them “computers” because we were too lazy to make a new word when disk drives and displays were integrated into the cabinet along with the “computing” part.

          None of my “disk drives” have actual disks in them anymore but my computer insists on calling them “disk drives”

          The interval between displayed frames is still called the “vertical blank” even though those vertically moving electron beams are only a distant memory

          gosh you can go over the english language word by word and discover that most words are not used in their original context any more

      2. I call it a smartwatch because it’s a watch that can do more than traditional watches, just as a smartphone can do more than traditional cellphones. Beyond that, I consider smartwatches and the Pebble in particular to be second screens for smartphones. Instead of looking at your main screen when you get a notification, you look at your second screen. It’s a simple concept, really.

    1. I never actually used the word ‘smart’ in my project’s title ;)
      But to be honest I just describe it as a smart watch to most people, it’s what they’re more familiar with (OLED? what’s OLED??)

    2. That’s more like it Orpington! I can’t believe I had to skim through so many lines to find a nice compliment about this project.

      Knowing how much time, effort and pig-headed perseverance DIY watch making takes, and having achieved only half as much with my badly-hacked-together firmware in OTM-02, I can honestly say that’s a REALLY awesome piece of work Jared – keep it up :)

  2. I never actually used the word ‘smart’ in my project’s title ;)
    But to be honest I just describe it as a smart watch to most people, it’s what they’re more familiar with.

  3. Okayyyy… WANT! WANTWANT! As it is I’m pretty useless at soldering, more of a software chap, so making my own would involve losing my sanity and still not getting a watch at the end of it.

    For stuff like card games, arcade games, Tetris, and whatever occurred to me. People used to buy game watches in the 1980s! Particularly me. Well, Santa brought them at least.

    There’s an SDK for the Sony smartwatches but that seems just to be a case of sending it strings of text and bitmaps, and getting 1 of 6 button-presses back as and when. Doesn’t seem to be able to do stuff on the fly. And of course all the processing happens on the phone, the watch itself is almost brainless.

      1. Come on. Use your paranoid mind to think slightly bigger.

        Is it so hard to imagine a OLED touch screen forearm Sleeve like the ones you might see in various science fiction shows.

      2. I want a watch I can play Freecell on. I just want one! When I have one I’ll be happy and complete. I don’t mind having to write the Freecell myself. Also Tetris, though I’ve already got an old LCD watch that does that.

  4. Where did he procure the OLED? Looks pretty sweet as a LCD display for a basic microcontroller if the price is reasonable (read, not $100 like so many out there).

    1. I originally got it from, but they no longer sell it. You can get it from element14/farnell for around $40. I also managed to find a cheap supply on after I broke one:×128-Resolution-SPI-Parallel-Interface-SSD1351-Controller/1461252182.html ($25 for two)

      It’s a pretty sweet display, can be driven through both SPI or parallel, and there’s lots of code out there for the specific controller (SSD1351)

        1. math is fun

          128 x 128 x 16 bpp image is 32K bytes

          SSD1351 data sheet says min SPI clock cycle is 50 ns or 200 MHz

          so let’s say we are using STM32F1 with 18 MHz SPI clock and we use DMA etc for good efficiency

          at 18 MHz we can push roughly 1.5 million pixels to the screen per second

          if a screenful is 32K bytes we can push 45 screens of data per second

          “I doubt full motion video” oops

          I sincerely wish that Netflix could push movies to me at 45 screens per second

          1. oops more like 1 million pixels per second and more like 30 screenfuls per second

            not too shabby, still better than netflix can send images to me via verizon fios

          2. 50ns rate = 20MHz, not 200MHz – but it’s still more than the 18MHz the STM32 supports. And with the 256kbit/frame you can do around 76fps of postage stamp sized video.

    1. My Chinese mobile-phone watch already has that covered. Even got a tiny little web browser, and after a hell of a lot of tweaking and experiment, it actually works! And a video camera. And Bluetooth, and video playback, and MP3, and I can’t even remember what else. Oh yeah, a keypad and writing recognition on the touch-screen. Much better than Dick’s crappy 2-way radio watch, and only 80 years or so later.

    1. See, idiots kick sand in people’s faces, geniuses sculpt it’s atoms into nifty little watches. Kicking sand never proved anyone right. I’d rather have brains than muscle. Which is pretty fortunate.

  5. Hi!

    Good watch!
    I want to make sport watch and I think I can use this case. Could you please measure dimensions of hollow in front side and if you can the size of useful space of this case?
    I choosing screen for this case.

    Best regards,

  6. Nice post and comments, thanks guys :-)
    Occurs to add various scripts searching for sleep patterns re meditation/vivid/lucid dream states which could be correlated with intent – then you have the base for a form of Experimental Method to pursue a thesis re man machine interaction in respect5 of some aspects of bio feedback as it relates to health with one facet being heart rate changes during all sleep states…

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