Pebble Watch and the Future Smart Home
Upon first glace at the Pebble Watch I thought, "Why?" It seems so redundant. It is an e-paper watch that can receive updates from your mobile phone, alerting you to incoming calls or texts, control your music, get weather alerts, or even lean on your phone's GPS for when you're riding your bike. However, it's nothing that your phone can't already do -- it's just in a different package. Yet, the watch project managed to raise a cool $10 million on Kickstarter, making it the most financed project the fundraising site has seen to date (the project was only shooting for $100,000).
So, it's clear that a whole lot of people want a watch that does nothing new. But... maybe it does do something different. Not spectacularly different (and still nothing a phone can't do) but something different enough that it's worth really paying attention to Pebble Watch.
On top of being a wrist watch that can, you know, tell you the time, it is also now compatible with Twine, a prototype interface that uses a sensor and notification system. With Twine, you can receive alerts when your washing machine is done with a load of laundry, for instance, or if someone opens a door, and so on.
DesignBoom explains the system simply:
while 'the internet of things' and a connected home are not new concepts, the mission behind 'twine' is to make the technology easily accessible to average users with no knowledge of programming. the system is powered by a wireless module (2.5-inches square and powered by AAA battery), connected on users' existing wifi network and interfaced with a cloud-based service called 'spool'. web-based, 'spool' permits users to modify and monitor their 'twine' alerts from any browser. the application itself reads in conversational english, for example: 'when moisture sensor gets wet then send an SMS reading 'the basement is flooding!'' users can add to a list of preprogrammed rule sets, and share new rules with other 'twine' users.
Okay, so with Twine, you can determine exactly what notifications you want to get from everyday objects and machines. And with Pebble watch, you can get those updates on your wrist.
While the system would be very simple in the near future, it is the building blocks for a more sophisticated system later on that can include energy-saving alerts like lights being left on or dishwashers running at the right time of day. I know, I know -- we already have sophisticated systems that do this for smart homes. But, do you see many people using them? Do you see people laying down dough on Kickstarter at record rates to be part of them? Nope. You see people wanting wrist watches that tell you when an email comes in. It's just a building block, even a couple steps back from what's already out there, but it's a building block people want. Not only does it have potential uses for saving resources and money, but it is currently "all the rage." And that makes it worth keeping an eye on.
"We believe in connecting many simple objects to do powerful things, and when a common backer of Eric's and ours suggested that Twine and Pebble together would be like peanut butter and chocolate, we loved the idea." John Kestner, Supermechanical co-founder, told Wired in an e-mail. "[Pebble] is tinkerer-friendly and a kindred post-PC spirit (it even uses the same low-power ARM processor [as Twine]) and by giving users the ability to incorporate Pebble into Twine rules, the possible applications grow exponentially."
The Twine partnership only hints at the many ways a Pebble smartwatch might be useful in people's day-to-day lives. The Pebble team will make an open software development kit available in August, allowing developers to create more applications for the Pebble platform.
When it comes to making smart homes and the energy savings possible with them popular, Pebble watch in conjunction with projects like Twine might be an important path.