16-year-old Maker creates an Arduino-compatible, open-source smartwatch

Four months ago, 16-year-old John Wall had introduced the prototype of his Atmel powered OLED smartwatch. Now, the Maker has revealed that the design was completed and functioning on its own power.

“After all my hard work, soldering iron burns, panic moments, unforeseen delays, and small victories, my smart watch finally exists,” he revealed on the WΛLLTΞCH blog.


Version 6.1 of his open-source watch — described as a Bluetooth 4.0 fitness-tracking device for Android and iOS with a 1.5-inch color OLED display — is built around the IMUduinoBTLE, which features an ATmega32u4 MCU (bootloaded as an Arduino Leonardo).

The Maker had been cataloguing his build over on Hackaday for quite some time now as an entrant in the competitive Hackaday Prize.

“You may have seen any of the smartwatches on the market today and thought, ‘That’s way too expensive,’ or ‘I wish this feature was customizable,’ or ‘Darn, I need an Android phone for that,'” Wall writes.

Sound familiar? Luckily for the do-it-yourselfers out there, not only is this device more cost-effective, it is also equipped with a microSD slot, QI charging, NFC technology, an altimeter, a thermometer, a compass, a gyroscope, an accelerometer,a pedometer, and of course, BLE which enables phone notifications.


In true Maker fashion, Wall stresses that his Arduino-compatible watch can be customized to the core and can even fit the imaginative needs of any wearer. Why Arduino? MAKE Magazine recently reported that it all began when Wall impulse-bought an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) and used it to build a bedside clock. It was his first exposure to making and soldering.

“I didn’t really have any hobbies before this — probably Lego when I was a kid — and I think I saw it on the internet one day that someone had made something, like a little robot, so I looked into it a bit and thought, well, people are making some really cool stuff with this,” Wall explained.

At the center of this open-source design sits an ATmega32u4 that handles just about anything you can throw at it. Surrounding the inner components is a new 3D-printed case sourced from Sculpteo.com that slims the new design by 0.5mm. Wall also was able to remove the screen he had been using for testing and permanently assemble the design.

Though the watch is fully-functional, the 16-year-old Maker still plans on updating its wireless charging capabilities. He notes that once he makes a few aesthetic changes to the outer shell, he’ll adhere the QI wireless charging receiver to its base. “I’ll be able to just place it down on my charging base and it will begin charging wirelessly and by itself.”

While Wall was a bit disappointed not to have been named a finalist in the Hackaday Prize contest, he is beginning to polish the accompanying mobile application for his DIY watch.

“I’ll complete the operating system to use the communication standards I created in the app and add the fancy animations and features that will make this the coolest smart watch out there,” he concludes.



2 thoughts on “16-year-old Maker creates an Arduino-compatible, open-source smartwatch

  1. Pingback: 16-year-old Maker creates an Arduino-compatible, open-source smartwatch | Richards Innovation Blog

  2. Pingback: What time is it? These DIY clocks say it’s Maker time! | Bits & Pieces from the Embedded Design World

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