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.