Smartwatches are a battleground these days, with smartphone manufacturers vying to have the prettiest, sleekest, and longest-lasting device on the market. Meanwhile, DIY efforts continue to improve in sophistication as better components become available. [Rocky Bergen’s] Arduwatch is a particularly appealing design study, with such visual flair that we’d love to see it become a reality.
The design was inspired by the Arduboy, itself a lightweight homebrewed handheld console of impressive simplicity. [Rocky]’s concept hinges on taking that credit-card sized platform and repurposing it as a wearable device instead. The squared-off, retro design of the Arduwatch is appealing, as is its simple four-button interface and the bright colors [Rocky] chose to show it off. Ultimately, too, its low-resolution display would realistically be more than suitable for a great variety of simple smartwatch tasks, which often just involve displaying notifications and the like.
[Rocky’s] work may just be a design study, but it’s well thought out and eminently viable. We’d love to see how well this design could work in the real world, particularly if built with some nice resin-printed parts paired with a quality watch strap.
If you’ve heard of [Rocky Bergen] before, it may be due to his exquisite collection of retrocomputer papercraft designs. If you’ve been cooking up your own DIY smartwatch ideas, don’t hesitate to hit up the tipsline!
There’s just something about a pocket watch that screams class compared to the barbaric act of bending your arm, or the no-fun way of looking at your phone.
But smartwatches are dumb, analog things that mostly look pretty. Or are they? [JGJMatt] proves otherwise with their stunning DIY smart pocket watch. It is essentially a cheap smart watch from Amazon stuffed into the shell of an old pocket watch, but you know it’s not quite that simple.
On the easier side of things, [JGJMatt] had to come up with a 3D-printed bracket to hold the smart watch’s guts. On the harder end of the spectrum, he ended up building the charging port into the crown, where the latch used to be.
This is a beautiful build for sure, and a great way to reuse something that might otherwise end up thrown away or melted down.
The build is based around the ESP-12E microcontroller, providing useful wireless connectivity that lets the watch interface with the outside world. The firmware makes queries of NTP servers and Yahoo’s weather API to collect time and weather data for display. It’s also capable of interacting with Blynk relay modules for controlling other equipment, which [akashv44] uses with lights and an air conditioner. The watch uses a small OLED display and a handful of small surface-mount tactile buttons for control. Power is courtesy of a small lithium-ion pouch cell, with charging handled by a TP4056 battery management IC.
It’s a simple smartwatch, but nonetheless one that teaches all kinds of useful skills in embedded development and design. It’s also funny to think how simple it is to build. A decade ago, before the ESP8266 was released, getting wireless connectivity in such a small package was a major engineering challenge. Even the Apple Watch didn’t come out until 2015! Food for thought.
The world’s first quartz wristwatches were miles ahead of electric and mechanical wristwatches by most standards of the time, their accuracy was unprecedented and the batteries typically lasted somewhere on the order of a year. Modern smart watches, at least in terms of battery life, have taken a step backwards — depending on use, some can require daily charging.
If you’re looking to bridge the gap between a day and a year, you might look into a smart watch with an e-ink display. One option is the ESP32-based LILYGO T-Wrist. Of course, it’s not a smart watch without some software to run on it, which is where qpaperOS comes in.
Developed by [qewer33], this open source firmware for the T-Wrist is designed to get the most out of the battery by updating only once per minute. With a 250 mAh battery, it should last about five days on a charge. Of course, with the power of the ESP32 comes a whole host of other features including GPS, a step counter, and a weather display, although since the firmware is still under development, some of these features have yet to be implemented.
With all of the code available, qpaperOS could make an excellent platform from which to build your own smart watch around. Or perhaps you could chip in and add some of the features on the whislity. The ESP32 is a capable and versatile chip, even capable of playing popular 8-bit video games, although we’re not sure this functionality would fit in a smart watch and preserve battery life at the same time.
Apple has been busy adding new features to its smartphone and smartwatch offerings. Its new iPhone 14 and Apple Watch 8 now feature a safety system that contacts emergency services in the event the user is in a automobile accident.
As with so many new technologies though, the feature has fallen afoul of the law of unintended consequences. Reports are that the “crash detection system” is falsely triggering on rollercoasters and in other strange circumstances. Let’s take a look at how these systems work, and why this might be happening.
Humans aren’t always great at respecting each other’s privacy. However, common sense says there’s a clear boundary when it comes to the thoughts in one’s own head and the feelings in one’s heart.
For bus drivers in Beijing though, it seems that’s no longer the case. These professional drivers are now being asked to wear emotional monitors while on the job, raising concerns from both legal and privacy advocates. But the devices aren’t really anything more than workout monitors, and whether they can actually make good on their Orwellian promise remains to be seen.
In Your Head, In Your Head!
When George Orwell wrote 1984, it was only 1949. However, he was able to foresee a world in which surveillance was omnipresent and inescapable. He also envsioned the concept of thoughtcrime, where simply contemplating the wrong things could get you in serious trouble with the authorities.
As we all know, Orwell was way off – these predictions didn’t become reality until well into the 2000s. In the latest horrifying development, technologies now exist that claim to be able to monitor one’s emotional state. Now, China’s transportation sector is rushing to push them on their workforces.
When you think about customizing the face of a smartwatch, you probably imagine something akin to selecting a new wallpaper on an Android device, or maybe tweaking the color scheme a bit. But not [Sebastian SARBU], his plans were a bit grander than all that. So he cracked open Android Studio and started writing a truly custom watch face that would make the most out of the device’s display. Luckily for us, he’s not only released the source code for others to study, but has documented the development process in a series of videos that you can see below the break.
He’s dubbed the new interface his “Pizza Watch Face”, as it breaks the circular screen down into slices complete with a bits of multi-colored “crust” that can show various notifications using the fewest pixels possible. There’s no question the layout is able to pack a lot of information into a relatively small space, and while aesthetics are naturally subjective, we happen to think it looks pretty slick. Continue reading “Developing A Custom WearOS Watch Face”→