Tag Archives: Pebble

RePhone is the world’s first open source, modular smartphone


Seeed Studio’s new kit enables Makers to create their own phone and hack inanimate things with the power of cellular communication.


When it comes to electronics, the concept of modularity continues to rise in popularity — and rightfully so. Rather than have to endure the high cost of a new gadget every few years, you’ll soon be able to swap out individual parts and simply upgrade your existing device whenever necessary. Reminiscent of Google’s Project Ara, our friends over at Seeed Studio have joined the party by launching a Kickstarter campaign for a DIY smartphone made entirely from open source components.

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Called RePhone, the modular kit enables you to create your own phone as well as hack other objects around you by giving them the power of cellular communication. Pretty cool, right? The unit itself is built around the RePhone GSM + BLE module, or the RePhone Core 3G module which provides faster data connection yet lacks Bluetooth. But that’s not all.

Seeed will offer an assortment of Xadow add-on modules, each with their own set of unique features. These include a 1.54” touchscreen, an Arduino-compatible MCU (ATmega32U4), a basic sensor board, a GPS board, an audio board, a 5×7 LED board, a GSM breakout board and an NFC board. These can be connected using an FPC cable (11 or 35 pin), soldered wires, conductive thread or a breadboard. Plus, the DIY device is powered a 520mAh battery.

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Additionally, Seeed has unveiled a RePhone Create Kit, which lets you design and customize a phone enclosure out of kraft paper. This material is sewable, washable, and most importantly, easy to draw on. Makers will be able to personalize their cases in all sorts of shapes, colors and styles.

The modular gadget is indeed a fully-functional tool, which can be used like any other everyday phone to make and receive calls, send text messages, and play music. Seeed has devised Arduino, Lua and Javascript libraries, as well as a full power SDK based on Eclipse for C/C++ developers. What’s more, the RePhone can be programmed with IFTTT logic. This allows you to define and implement recipes for various actions, such as being notified if your dog wanders off or your bike gets lost.

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“The modular design of RePhone brings limitless DIY possibilities. Those tiny neat blocks can be fit into a phone enclosure of any size, shape, or style you like,” Seeed Studio writes. “You can make your RePhone even cooler with different materials like leather, fabric and bamboo. Build a sturdy case with 3D printing, laser cutting, CNC and injection molding.”

To top it all off, the device is compatible with both the Arduino and Pebble. RePhone creates alternative ways to communicate with inanimate things in your physical world over GSM and 3G, whether that’s a walking cane phone for grandpa, a GPS pet collar, an interactive t-shirt or a rigged desk lamp. The possibilities are endless.

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Ready to piece together your own RePhone? Although Seeed Studio has already completed its Kickstarter campaign, which garnered over $276,000, you can still pre-order yours today here.

What time is it? The TimeDock Sleepeasy will tell you


This interactive docking station allows your Pebble Time smartwatch to talk to you with a wave of your hand.


Picture this. You’re in bed, wondering how much time has gone by since you haven’t been able to fall asleep. What if there was a device that could tell you the time so you didn’t need to put your glasses on to find out? At the Pebble Rocks Boulder Hackathon, one team devised a gadget to solve that specific problem.

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The TimeDock Sleepeasy is an interactive docking station for your Pebble Time smart watch. The gramophone-like unit allows you to find out what time it is, without having to turn on a light, press buttons or touch the Pebble while it’s on the dock charging. Even better, the device will read the time and talk to you, so you don’t need to do anything except wave your hand.

Inspired by the old-fashioned gramophone, the team created a 3D-printed mount embedded with an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) inside. The 3D design enabled the sound to be amplified mechanically, resulting in a gramophone look-a-like. The Arduino then communicates with the Pebble and leverages a sensor to respond and tell you the time.

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The group figured out how to get the Arduino talking to the Pebble, and they used an ultrasound sensor so that users can wave their hand at the TimeDock and learn the time. To open communication between the Arduino and the Pebble, the team configured the ATmega328 board to send a request to the Pebble for the time, then programmed the Pebble to reply with the time and a request to say it. Its creators loaded .WAV files on the Arduino for a range of other notifications programmed on the Pebble — when the Arduino gathers information on the notification, it plays the corresponding .WAV file.

“TimeDock was developed as a charging station for the Pebble Time and Time Steel, and was a successful Kickstarter campaign. For this hackathon, we wanted to see if we could make TimeDock do more than charging. The TimeDocks that you see in use in this article have been modified to allow connection to the smart strap serial data port on the Pebble Time,” the team explains.

Mission accomplished! You can read all about the 48-hour build process on its Hackster.io page here.

Pebble pledges $1M to make smartstraps a reality


Pebble has pledged $1 million towards development of modular accessories for its latest Time and Time Steel smartwatches.


A few weeks ago, Pebble launched a Kickstarter campaign for its Pebble Time smartwatch. To date, the record-shattering gadget has already garnered nearly $20 million and has been at the center of all the wearable buzz as of late. Aside from the unveiling of its premium Steel counterpart during Mobile World Congress, another big piece of news has proven to be the announcement of modular smartstraps. This open hardware component of Pebble Time will enable Makers, developers and designers alike to create their own add-ons for the device. Better yet, Pebble is now betting big on the initiative by pledging $1 million to fund its development and commercialization.

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“If you have an idea and want to be part of the smartstrap revolution, this is your chance! Get a team together, build a prototype and put your project up on a crowdfunding platform. Our team will work to help bring your idea to life,” Pebble writes.

Smartstraps open the door to a wide-range of possibilities, including standalone cellular capabilities, NFC, GPS and even heart rate monitors. Pebble says these bands will be easily interchangeable, and can be swapped out in as little as five to 10 seconds.

In the days following its announcement, the Pebble crew received countless ideas, requests, and suggestions for smartstraps. Two of their earliest favorites came direct from notable names in the Maker community: Spark.io and SeeedStudio.

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Seeed Studio has revealed that they will be producing a Pebble Time connector for their Arduino-compatible Xadow boards (ATmega32U4) later this year. Meanwhile, a recent Spark.io prototype demonstrated how an Electron could be used to untether a Pebble and connect directly to the cellular network.

“We are big fans of Seeed and their Xadow modules. They offer 20+ strap-sized modules, which include NFC readers, OLED displays, barometers and GPS modules, and we hear a Heart Rate Sensor is coming soon! The upcoming Xadow adapter for Pebble Time will make prototyping new smartstraps very simple and affordable.”

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Keeping in line with its crowdfunding tradition, Pebble is encouraging Makers to get together, devise prototypes and put their projects up on Kickstarter. The team adds, “We will monitor Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms for smartstrap related projects that support Pebble devices, and we’ll back the best of them. We truly understand the value of backing projects in their early state, having started that way ourselves.”

Want to learn more? Head over to its official page now.