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12 Apr 12 Pebble E-Ink Smartwatch Connects to Your iOS or Android Phone

Pebble alerts you when you can an email, phone call, and more. Photo: Allerta

Smartwatches haven’t really caught on with mainstream buyers — but that might change with Allerta’s new wrist-worn creation. The maker of the inPulse smartwatch for BlackBerry has unveiled Pebble, an e-ink smartwatch that connects to iOS and Android devices.

Pebble is available today for pre-order for $115 on Kickstarter. The watch sports a 144 x 168 black-and-white e-ink display and also includes a vibrating motor, four buttons, a 3-axis accelerometer, and Bluetooth 2.1+ EDR, which facilitates wireless connection to an Android or iOS device. Perhaps best: Pebble looks pretty darn slick.

The six-person Allerta team has been working on Pebble since September 2011, but the company is quite familiar with smartwatches, having worked on the inPulse since 2009.

“We learned a lot from inPulse. For one, BlackBerry was not doing too well,” Eric Migicovsky, Allerta founder and lead designer, told Wired. “You also have to capture a really tasteful aesthetic design, because a watch is something people are wearing on their wrist every day.”

Pebble does a lot more than show the time. Once it’s connected to your iOS or Android phone, the watch can display incoming caller IDs, notify you when you get an e-mail, provide weather and calendar alerts, and more. Android users can even view SMS messages on the watch (iOS doesn’t make this data available). All of the notification settings, along with various watchface options, are customizable via the Pebble mobile app.

Pebble also comes with a few built-in apps of its own. Using the GPS on a connected smartphone, cyclists and runners will be able to see their speed, distance, and pace data on the watch. A music app makes it possible to control songs playing on your smartphone. There’s even a golf app that supports more than 25,000 courses, and lets golfers see their distance from the green.

If you want total control over the smartwatch, you can access Pebble’s open SDK to create more apps and notifications. For those of us who don’t know how to code, Pebble does offers a web-facing endpoint as well as If This Then That support so you can set up simple alerts through either service.

Now why would you want a smartwatch for all of these tasks and notifications, instead of just pulling out your phone? “Maybe you’re running to the bus or juggling multiple bags,” Migicovsky said. “A lot of times it’s easier to just look at your wrist. And it’s a much more discreet way for checking your phone.”

Pebble comes in three colors — red, white, and black — and will work with an iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 5, and Android devices running OS 2.3 or later. The battery lasts for about seven days, and Pebble can stay connected to your device at distances up to 20 feet, so even if your phone’s not in your pocket, you’ll be able to get notifications.

When we spoke with Migicovsky Wednesday morning, Allerta had already sold 1,134 Pebbles via its Kickstarter campaign, only a few hours after the company announced the smartwatch. The team plans to use the funds to help put the smartwatch into production — Pebble is scheduled to ship in September this year and retail for $150.

“We’re just proud of Pebble and the support we’ve received from Kickstarter. We have our work cut out for us for bringing the watch to market and we’re really pumped up,” Migicovsky said.

Check out Pebble’s Kickstarter video below:

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