One of our favorite pastimes is to compare emergent technology with the sometimes quaint but occasionally startlingly prescient predictions of technological inventions of the future. At the end of the 19th century, Mark Twain foresaw the internet. He envisioned humans connecting with one another from across the globe in a matter of minutes. Star Trek, with its clever flip phones (among other futuristic-seeming gadgets), was pretty much right on the mark. So was square-jawed, no-nonsense cartoon detective Dick Tracy’s fantastic TV phone-watch, which now looks uncannily like the smart watches that have recently made it onto the scene.
Pebble, LG, Motorola, Samsung, Sony, and, most recently, Apple, among others, have gotten smart watches onto the market and, while the devices aren’t yet enjoying widespread use, they’ll surely increase in popularity as the technology becomes more sophisticated. Right now, the majority of smart watches are basically the less intelligent sidekicks of smart phones. Most of them connect to mobile phones wirelessly and allow you to access texts and social media updates, and you can run some apps on them. The more expensive and sophisticated smart watches do let you make calls from your watch and some can actually replace smart phones, working independently of them with no pairing required.
If you’re not up for spending your money on one of the less advanced smart watch models, you may want to check out maker Jonathan Cook’s DIY Open-Source SmartWatch, part of which is 3D printed, something the prognosticators of future tech surely didn’t forecast. Cook shared instructions for making his SmartWatch on the webzine “Make:” and also on his own website, DoNothingBox. You can download the STL files on the DNB site, too. For around $125 or less you can make your own smart phone and you can customize it, something that you wouldn’t be able to do with a store-bought version.
Cook’s SmartWatch combines breakout boards (devices used to create the interface between your phone and your watch) and the aforementioned 3D printed frame and consists of four sections:
- A battery charging circuit
- A vibrating motor for silent notifications
- A programmable, Arduino-compatible core (Cook used an 8MHz Microduino microcontroller) with power regulation
- Bluetooth LE and an OLED display with pushbuttons.
Note that you will be doing some assembly of small components and will be using a fine-point soldering iron.
We appreciate that the translucent material of Cook’s Open-Source SmartWatch gives you a glimpse of the inner workings of the device. The device isn’t bulky, either, which is certainly a plus as none of us probably feel much like we’re walking around with what basically looks like a regular smart phone strapped to our wrists.
Is this the sort of project you would undertake? How do you think this open source smart watch compares with those already on the market from big name brands? Let usknow your thoughts over at the 3D Printed Open Source Smart Watch forum thread at 3DPB.com.