Wearable computing delivered

9 January 2013 by Steve Blum
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Migicovsky shows Pebble watch and app.

“We're proud of it, it's a full blown consumer electronics product,” said Eric Migicovsky, CEO of Pebble, as he introduced the Pebble smart watch at CES, promising a shipping date of 23 January 2013.

It's a real watch. It sits on your wrist, tells the time and you can swim with it. It's also “a connected device, which talks to your smart phone,” Migicovsky explained.

If the production units perform like this morning's demo, Pebble has a shot at being the first mass market, non-geek smart watch. It's limited to functions that make sense to have on your wrist – receive short text messages, switch songs on your iPod, see brief push notifications and, yes, tell time. The heavy lifting is done on your smart phone.

The Pebble has a variety of interchangeable watch faces and is open to outside developers to design more. With a push of a button you can change from an analog face, to digital and to more creative displays like “fuzzy time” or pure binary.

Beyond the basics, it uses its 144 by 168 pixel e-paper display to show email, text messages and other notifications that are routed through an app on your Android or iOS device to Pebble via Bluetooth. It'll tell you when a call is coming in or track a run workout via the GPS chip on your phone. There's a backlight that you can turn on with a flick of your wrist.

It can act as a control mechanism too. For example, it'll let you select music and see what's playing on your phone or iPod Touch. The battery will last a week, then it needs a couple of hours of recharging via a magnetic inductance cord that plugs into any USB port.

The first 85 thousand watches – a six to eight week backlog – will go to the people who backed the project on Kickstarter. Then they'll start selling to the public via the web at a $150 price point. For now, there's no other retail distribution.