I wouldn't have guessed it, but it's true. We still like wearing wrist watches that are not worn as shiny bling. As long as they sport our latest technology, anyway.
A Cool New Gadget Taps In To Your PhonePebble is an e-paper smart watch design that connects to your iPhone or Android-powered smart phone. It can be customized to the nth degree, with different watch faces and apps that are downloaded to the watch. It alerts you to incoming calls, texts and emails, you can play your music from it, and you can even access the GPS on your phone to get information like distance and pace when cycling or running. Essentially, it puts your smart phone on your wrist, in a smaller, more stylish form. And thanks to the e-paper technology used for the display (similar to that used on Kindles and other e-reader devices), the display can be updated in style or color whenever you want yet remain energy efficient -- the rechargeable battery lasts 7 days.
Basically it sounds like a really cool high-tech new product. And as it goes with smart gadgets, it's already really, really popular. In fact, it is the highest grossing Kickstarter project ever.
The designers put the project on Kickstarter hoping to raise $100,000 to get the product off the ground. But in a matter of days they raised over $3 million and counting. The project still has a month on Kickstarter and funds continue to roll in.
Here's the Kickstarter video.
But What Is The Pebble For?
But it begs the question: Why?
Why do we want a watch that basically puts the same functions as our phones on our wrists? Weren't we working to move toward dematerialization and ending redundancy of electronics? Why would we want a watch that is our smart phone only on our wrist? Why are tens of thousands of people willing to put down money for a product that is just another version of something they already have?
Maybe it is because -- with the ability to see incoming caller IDs, e-mail notifications, weather and calendar alerts, and Facebook and Twitter information -- you can be on your phone without being on your phone. It's a more discrete way to check in on things when you're supposed to be socializing. Or maybe it's nice to have a mini version of your phone out when you're being active, so that you don't have to constantly pull it from your pocket to check things. I am really not sure, but it's clear that the project is well loved. In an interview with Wired, Pebble founder and lead designer Eric Migicovsky speculated why:
Wired: What do you think it is about the Pebble that is gaining so much traction?
Migicovsky: I think it’s because we’ve been doing this a while and had some success in the past. We basically iterated very quickly on our past products. The iPhone is huge and being able to support something that big is great. And being able to support any Android phone is big. People want to use products that they can see themselves wearing in everyday life. Using Kickstarter and its video platform, we were able to give examples of how people would use Pebble.
It seems like just another example of consumerism -- a shiny gadget that is both a customizable fashion accessory and keeps us tethered, rather literally, to our online lives. It adds to our environmental footprint but does it serve a new, practical purpose? No, not really. But that doesn't seem to stop people from throwing money at it. In the time it took me to write this post, Pebble raised another $16,000. And I'm a speedy writer....
If you can think of a purpose for this watch that isn't taken care of by savvy use of your existing smart phone, or by taking a deep breath and stepping back from the obsession of virtual connection, then please leave that use in the comments.