In a prior article on the Instagram Camera, I said that the potential legions of fans that the prototype would draw should probably take to Kickstarter.com, in a mob like fashion, to make that invention a reality. I meant that somewhat jokingly. Well, in just a short time fund raising on that very site, tech developer Eric Migicovsky, along with his “dream team”, and their invention The Pebble Watch have pretty much guaranteed that no one will be making jokes about Kickstarter ever again.
The Pebble watch, which raised an almost unfathomable $2.5 million in just three days on Kickstarter, is a smart watch that works with iPhone and Android devices. It’s essentially an evolution of the inPulse smart watch, also designed by Eric Migicovsky and Co., which worked with Blackberry devices. The Pebble takes certain apps and functions of your smart phone, like controlling your music playlists or providing a heads up when you receive a text message or phone call, and transfers them to the face of the watch. It has an e-ink display, is waterproof, scratchproof, keeps its’ charge for seven days, and even functions with an app developer program.
I’ve got to confess. As nice as all of that sounded, I wasn’t particularly impressed with the device at first. Or at least I didn’t understand how a “smart watch” could garner so much interest and cash in such a short time. But to truly appreciate the Pebble’s uses, you have to see the video that accompanies the product on Kickstarter.
No this isn’t a world changing device. That would be the smartphone. Instead this is a rare device that realizes that if you can’t beat the smartphone, you could do worse for yourself than to become its’ best friend. The Pebble is practically designed for joggers and bicyclists, as it allows you to do things like view your distance traveled, control your music, and manage incoming messages and calls without ever once having to break your motion. Even for pedestrians or drivers, the Pebble’s benefits of being able to access some of the most practical apps of your phone, without having to reach for it, actually brings your phone back to being a convenience and not a burden. Not to mention this finally makes the modern watch more than just jewelry, and also brings us one step closer to the sci-fi staple all purpose “wrist computer” (think Fallout’s Pip Boy device).
But really, the Pebble itself isn’t the story here. That belongs to Kickstarter. The idea of a program that could essentially allow consumers to choose the products they really want, without designers having to wade through the machine of corporate funding or personal loans for a project, was merely a vague notion whose successes have been treated as exceptions and novelty stories. But the Pebble has managed to raise over $10 million so far through Kickstarter (10,169% of its original goal), which is such an absurd figure that the developers are now pleading with people to stop contributing money as they have too much of it and can no longer meet demand.
Whatever success the Pebble watch has from here on out will be tied directly to Kickstarter. As word of the sites potential spreads, only time will tell if its’ bazaar of ideas will change certain foundations of commerce. But considering many people will be telling that time on their new Pebble watches, my guess is it’s got a pretty good shot.