Venture Fund Power: Pebble SmartWatch Raises $2 Million in KickStarter

By Alexandra Burlacu | Apr 16, 2012 11:09 AM EDT

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The makers of the InPulse wristwatch accessory for BlackBerry have now launched pre-orders for the Pebble smartwatch, which works alongside a user's phone. The Canadian company's smartwatch has raised as much as $2 million worth of orders through Kickstarter, an Internet-based funding venture designed to help companies test their ideas and raise funds for their projects.

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Initially, Eric Migicovsky sought just $10,000 over a five-week period through Kickstarter. In just three days, however, the project has raised as much as $2.1 million, with orders for nearly 17,000 smartwatches at a starting price of $115 per unit, though bulk orders are cheaper.

The Pebble smartwatch employs a very simple concept. It has a clean interface, a bunch of useful apps, high functionality and convenience, and it's all wrapped up into a stylish watch interface. It is designed to work with both iOS and Android smartphones, connecting to the phone via Bluetooth.

The Pebble smartwatch can display Caller ID for incoming calls, display weather alerts, notify users about incoming calendar events or emails, and even provide social media updates from the likes of Facebook and Twitter. It can also display SMS text on the watch display, but this feature is exclusive to Android users.

The watch sports a black and white e-paper display with a native resolution of 144 x 168 pixels, allowing users to view the display clearly even in bright sunlight. It also includes a three-axis accelerometer with gesture detection, which allows users to dismiss notifications simply by shaking their wrist. The battery lasts for at least a week, after which the watch can be recharged via USB or wall socket.

Moreover, the watch display stays active at all times, and a backlight allows users to read the watch at night. The Pebble watch is also designed to be scratch and shatter resistant, and, after the project hit one million on Kickstarter, the development team upgraded the initial batch to be water resistant as well.

The smartwatch is compatible with the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S running iOS 5, or any iPod Touch running iOS 5, and with Android devices running OS 2.3 and above. BlackBerry, Windows Phone or Palm operating systems are not compatible. Meanwhile, the development team is also distributing a software development kit, aiming to encourage developers to create more apps for the Pebble.

Compared to its predecessor, the InPulse for BlackBerry, the Pebble smartwatch boasts twelve times more RAM and eight times more Flash memory, in order to run multiple apps simultaneously.

The development team will also include a range of native applications with the first batch of Pebbles. The final version of the Pebble smartwatch is expected to ship in September 2012, and will be available in arctic white, jet black, cherry red, and another color to be determined by fans. It is expected to cost roughly $149.99, exactly the price of the recently launched Sony Smartwatch for Android phones. Contributors to the Kickstarter project, however, can pre-order a jet black Pebble for $115, provided they contribute until the project closes on May 18.

(reported by Alexandra Burlacu, edited by Dave Clark)


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