Is That An ESP32 On Your Wrist?

What could you do with a dual-core 240 MHz ESP32 that supports Arduino-style programming, with 16 MB of flash, 8 MB of PSRAM, and 520 k of RAM? Oh, let’s throw in a touchscreen, an accelerometer, Wifi, and Bluetooth. Besides that, it fits on your wrist and can show the time? That’s the proposition behind Lilygo T Watch 2020. If it sounds like a smartwatch, it is. At around $25 –and you can snag the hardware from a few different places — it is not only cheaper than the latest flagship smartwatch, but it is also infinitely more hackable.

OK, so the screen is only 1.54″, but then again, it is a watch. If Arduino isn’t your thing, you can use anything else that supports the ESP32 like Micropython or even Scratch. There are variants that have LoRA and GPS, at slightly higher prices. You can also find ones with heart rate monitors and other features.

If you would like a preview of the firmware, it is all there on GitHub and there is a smattering of documentation. There are even a few examples, although brush up on your Mandarin. The watch actually looks passable for a smartwatch, although the one blemish is that it is 20 mm thick.  That’s almost double the thickness of an Apple Watch 5 or a Samsung Active 2.

Still, if you want total hackability, that extra 10 mm is probably worth it. You can, of course, hack some watches that are not meant to be used this way. Besides, this watch is a bit more socially acceptable than one that would earn you hacker street cred.

29 thoughts on “Is That An ESP32 On Your Wrist?

  1. It seems that author mixed two versions of the TTGO Watch. Only older, thicker model is available on Aliexpress right now (as linked in the article). Watch 2020 (new model) is sold on Tindie.

      1. Which just means they’ll buy it on your behalf when/if it becomes available. If they can’t get any stock (or can’t get it cheap enough) they’ll leave you hanging indefinitely. No guarantee you’ll get it before people who order later on, either.

        I’ve had some experiences.

          1. Well, it’s a 350 mAh battery. I’m unsure about the esp32 sleep current, but all the other chips on the board are gonna use some power too. I’d hope the battery life is around a day

          2. 350mAh in what, 3 N size Nicads? :-D

            Yeah I should prolly look at the link but from the size quoted it seems big enough to swallow those LOL

  2. I don’t think it was ever shipped. It is still in preorder. Some informations are missing such as the battery capacity. But at that price, this is a great value, and very useful for many applications.

      1. Go ahead for same price you can have embedded (or laptop/desktop with only socket and PTH) x86 board + 5-7″ display + buck/boost converter + few 18650 or “prismatic” a one for more space efficiency.
        DIY case up to your taste.
        Now you can have 3.5-5 cm thick wrist wearable device.
        Good luck!

  3. Having owned both the old format ttgo and bangle.js, the latter is streets ahead. Hackable but presentable. Polished docs and examples. Clever web Bluetooth programming environment. Albeit three times the cost. You get what you pay for…

  4. Looking at the image Szaja linked to, I would have to hope that it can easily be configured for left or right (in other words flipping the screen upside down), otherwise the winding crown (and other buttons?) is in a very awkward position for right-handed manipulation on a left wrist.

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