Funded! This project was successfully funded on May 18, 2012.

Update #22

Pebble Under the X-ray

We sent Pebble in for an X-Ray last week. It wasn't an emergency room visit; more of a routine check-up. After assembly, Pebble is sealed up against the elements. This is great for water-resistance but it makes it hard for us to check that each component inside Pebble is in the correct position.

After we reviewed initial plastics samples (Update 20), we've worked on several tooling modifications to improve the fit and finish of the plastic components. The largest pain has been the transparent lens. It's probably the most important mechanical element in the design (both from a structural as well as aesthetic perspective). To get it right, we've had to modify the steel tool a few times. Each new tooling variation is given a T_ name (we're currently working on T4).

Looking at Pebble under the x-rays revealed a problem: the charge contact pins on the left side of the case were being installed with a slant. The depth was also inconsistent. We fixed that in the tooling and T3 samples turned out much better under the rays!

As usual, we've posted high resolution images in this album. You can also check out an annotated x-ray that shows which parts are which!

Contest Results

More than 2000 of you sent in entries describing what kind of things you're looking forward to doing with your Pebble. Answers ranged from eloquent poetry (shout out to Robrecht Vandemeulebroecke!) to hazier responses ("I'm going to use it to do stuff"). Tons of time-travel references (crossing my fingers!!) to comics ("I'm going to give Commissioner Gordon a much quicker way to contact me in an emergency"). After some deep internal discussion, we've decided upon the winners.

Top 3

  • "Place my phone under my FLAK Jacket to protect it and control the music from the watch while I am deployed to Afghanistan." From Dana Charter
  • "My adult son, who is Deaf and autistic, will use it while in his apartment so he doesn't have to always carry his cell phone on him. Another piece of peace of mind for his mom." From Rebecca Sharad
  • "I will read my texts whie spear-fishing. Yeah, I spear-fish." From Stephen Grubb

Seven other amazing entries were sent in from: Adam Graham, Charlie Lewandowski, Claudia King, Colton Fent, James Cha, jay l rosen, Jeff Coulter

Winners: please send us a Kickstarter message with your t-shirt size and colour preference (red or dark grey)

Tidbits from the Pebble World

  • We're getting ready for another test-build. Scheduled for next week. The test will include some test equipment like our custom flexible printed circuit (FPC) test fixture.
  • We have confirmation from our primary component supplier that the vast majority of our components have departed Arizona, flying towards Hong Kong and ultimately Dongguan, China. There are more than 110 electronic components inside each Pebble. It's been a lot of fun finding 85,000 sets of everything!
  • Received great-looking samples of the shipper box back from a supplier. This is the box that protects your Pebble during shipping. We'll be doing a 100 pcs shipping test to make sure that looks are not deceiving and that the box holds up. Our factory will also do environmental (water) and drop-tests with the box.

Thanks again everyone!

Eric + Pebble team


Update #21

Pre-Production Samples + Video

(Can't see the video? Click here to view it on Vimeo)

Things are moving fast in Pebble land. We're progressing rapidly through our Engineering Verification test stages. We've been spending a lot of time in Asia working with our manufacturing team and the various vendor factories that are supplying parts for Pebble. Two weeks ago, we did a sample build of Pebble with the full assembly line. The output of that sample build was a few of the first assembly line manufactured Pebbles!

Note:

Pebble is not in mass production yet. These sample Pebbles are from an early pre-production test build. We only turned the assembly line on for one day to test the process.

One of the first Pebbles off the test assembly line. Check out the video above for a closer look!

A view of the test assembly line

Soldering the battery to the main printed circuit board (PCB)

David (tall guy from Dragon) examining the vibrating-motor-into-case assembly process

You can view the high resolution versions of all these images and more in this album.

Roadmap

Environmental Testing

Now that we have more complete sample Pebbles to work with, we're beginning environmental testing. This means putting Pebble through its paces and seeing how the hardware holds up in a variety of everyday (and not so everyday) conditions. Here are just a few of the tests that Pebble is undergoing:

- salt water test
- water proofing test
- UV aging test 
- Drop test  
- Twist test with bands 
- Lens impact test 
- abrasion test 
- button reliability test 
- tension pull test with wrist straps installed 

Antenna testing

We can confirm that the issue we were having with the antenna (Update 18) has been conquered! The latest samples have vastly improved range and meet all of our requirements. Originally, our design included a chip antenna (similar to this), a simple antenna that's easy to use. But after testing back in August showed degradation of the signal inside a test Pebble, we redesigned the radio-frequency (RF) path. We switched to a custom-built antenna solution that uses metal traces positioned to be higher above the bottom of the watch, allowing the RF signal to be clear of water-filled cylinder that is a human wrist.

2-3 test builds remaining before mass production

Before we get into mass production (ie manufacturing all 85,000 Pebbles), we have several more test builds to complete. A test build is when we get the whole assembly line into place and manufacture/assemble a batch (normally around 50-300) of Pebbles. These test builds give us the chance to test the end-to-end manufacturing process, catching problems, testing new solutions and eliminating bugs. These are our major opportunities to revise and fix any problems with the design or manufacturing process, so we're being extremely diligent and careful. 

Testing different variations of batteries, vibrating motors and backlight modules

For example, we have several different vendors lined up to provide components for Pebble like the vibrating motor, battery and flexible printed circuit (FPC). In these test builds, we are qualifying each vendor's components and making sure that they are suitable for us to use. Having multiple vendors available for high risk components allows us to switch one component out for another in mass production if issues or delays arise with that specific part.

Color Pebbles

Check out the video to see a few samples of the color Pebbles. We aren't happy with the precise colors, so we're still working on tweaking the plastics. As soon as we're happy with the colors, we'll post high resolution photos in a future update.

T-shirts giveaway!

Here's your chance to get one of our cool 'Meet Pebble' t-shirts that I was wearing in the video. All you have to do is tell us what you're planning on doing with your Pebble ("Checking email while paragliding" or "Skipping music tracks from the bath tub" or even "Writing an app to control the sun..."). Post your answer in the comments section below. We'll choose our 10 favourite answers and give the responder a red or grey a 'meet pebble' t-shirt (their choice).

Thanks again for backing us, Pebblers!

Eric + Pebble Team


Update #20

Plastic Samples, iPhone 5 and More!

iOS 6 Update and iPhone 5

Bit of news: Apple released an update to iOS this week. iOS 6 is available for free on all the phones that Pebble supports (iPhone 3GS and up). We've had access to iOS 6 through the iOS Developers program for the last few months, and we've been testing our software with both iOS 5 and 6. The big news in iOS 6 is a new Bluetooth profile called MAP. We've integrated a MAP receiver into Pebble, but we still have a bit more testing to do with the iPhone 5. So far it's working really well! There is no reason Pebble should not work perfectly with iPhone 5.

Samples from our Plastics Factory

I mentioned in Update 17 that we were about to start the injection molding process. Creating molds or 'tools' is hard, literally. The process involves carving a Pebble-shaped cavity out of hard steel blocks and even with our accelerated schedule, it took 6 weeks. We had to make separate tools for each of the pieces of the watch (buttons, case, lens, strap). 

After weeks of work, we ran the first test shots of the mold. It's awesome to see the long, hard work of our industrial designer, tool designers and mechanical team pay off.

This is an important step towards mass production. Steve, our industrial designer, is in Taiwan right now evaluating samples which are literally hot off the presses. We think they look great for first shots, though we've got a bunch of tweaks to make to ensure that all plastic components work and look perfect. The only color we've made so far is black because we can't afford the down-time needed to fully clean the tool. As soon as we have samples in other colors, we will post pictures. 

We will leave color selection open past Sept 30 at account.getpebble.com (Entries can be submitted past Sept 30 now). We will email all backers before closing color selection. 

Case assembled with lens and strap (but missing buttons)

Top and bottom of the case

Tons of buttons!

Steve, our industrial designer, was on-site in Kaohsiung, Taiwan and took a bunch more photos (full album).

Printed Circuit Board (PCB) Progress

In parallel to the plastics work, we've made several revisions of the circuit board. With each revision we eliminate more bugs and improve the design. In response to a problem we had with the antenna, we created 3 different potential designs and then prototyped and tested each sample extensively inside an anechoic chamber. The best design prevailed and we've integrated that solution into our PCB.

Roadmap

We've got the whole team working extremely hard on Pebble, but there is a lot of work left to do.

Software Development

On the software and firmware side, we're in the process of strenuously testing Pebble's ability to receive new updates wirelessly via a smartphone. This means that even after you receive your Pebble, you can update the software on your watch simply by tapping a button on your phone. Our software team is also busy writing the underlying code for Pebble's customizable user interface, as well as the apps, like watchfaces, notifications and more, that run on top of the Pebble operating system. 

Testing

Now that our plastic manufacturing process is up and running, we're able to make lots of test units and iron out the kinks in the software, as well as the hardware manufacturing process. We've designed a strenuous test plan that will put Pebble through its paces. Right now (before we go into mass production) each aspect of the design, from water resistance to button presses to battery lifecycle, is being tested. Then when the factory is in full production mode, every single watch will be tested to be in compliance with our quality requirements.

SDK

(This section has been reposted on our forums for discussion)

The last update we've published about Pebble's Software Development Kit (SDK) was in June, when we described what the Pebble Android SDK would look like and launched developer.getpebble.com. Since then we've been pretty quiet on the subject.

I'd like to take this opportunity to talk about our roadmap towards creating an awesome developer environment on Pebble. At the moment, we're focusing 95% of our software effort on writing the base operating system and features for Pebble, on top of test routines that run in our factory. The sheer amount of work is enough to keep our 5 person software team quite busy. We feel it's important to build a strong foundation that's highly usable for both users as well as developers.

Part of that foundation is the ability for Pebble to easily run third-party apps. We've built this into the core architecture of our OS. The following is our plan to enable developers to create software that works with Pebble. Please keep in mind that this is a roadmap, we'll be releasing more info over time.

  • Android SDK: It's easy to integrate new or existing Android apps with Pebble. Our SDK uses intent messaging, allowing other apps to push messages, notifications or even sports data to Pebble. As soon as Pebble ships, developers will be able to use the API calls described on developer.getpebble.com to integrate their apps with Pebble
  • Notification API: Web developers will be able to add Pebble integration to their webapps as well. We're building an OAuth 2.0-enabled endpoint linked to the Pebble Account system. After asking Pebble users to authenticate, Notification API-enabled webapps will be able to push notifications, alerts and other data directly to a Pebble. The API takes care of all the communication between the web, phone and Pebble.
  • Watchface SDK: All the tools needed to create your own custom watchface for Pebble. This is our first experiment with 3rd party code running directly on Pebble's microcontroller. Developer tools and documentation are the most difficult part of this SDK stage.
  • iOS SDK: Things are a bit more complex on iOS. There is no simple method for doing interprocess communication between apps. We're pursuing a few different options. We're confident that the solutions we're building will work. 
  • Expanded Native SDK: At this stage we'll expand the featureset of the native development platform introduced with the Watchface SDK. Think games, sleep trackers, remote controls and other more complex apps.

Thanks for bearing with me through this long update. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email kickstarter@getpebble.com. Thanks again for backing Pebble!

Eric + Pebble Team


Update #19

New Color: Grey! Also: Enter Your Color Selection and Shipping Address

Hi Pebblers,

Due to extraordinary interest from our backers, we've decided to introduce a 5th Pebble colour option: Grey! Here's the current state of the Pebble rainbow:

Here's a render of the new Grey Pebble [not pictured: the 49 shades of grey that didn't make the cut]

Pebble Account website

In order to keep track of every single backer's shipping information and color selection, we created a  Pebble Account site. An invitation has been sent to the same email address that you used on Kickstarter when you backed Pebble. You can find the email in your inbox by searching for an email 

From: kickstarter@getpebble.com 

Subject: Your Pebble Order - Enter shipping info and color selection

Inside that email there is a special link that invites you to create a new password for your Pebble Account. If you can't find that email in your inbox, check your spam filter as message may be misclassified. If you can't find it, make sure that kickstarter@getpebble.com is on your safe-email list and then request a password reset here.

Using the Pebble Account website, you can choose your Pebble's color, enter your current shipping address and pay any shipping fees that were not included in your pledge on Kickstarter. You have until Sept 30, 2012 to select which color you'd like. As for your shipping address, please enter your current address into the system. You can return to account.getpebble.com at any time before your Pebble ships and change your address if you move. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q: When is Pebble shipping? A: We have not announced a shipping date. As soon as we are 100% confident we can ship by a certain date, we will announce it right here on our Kickstarter Updates section.
  • Q: I'm getting an error "The Invitation Token is Not Valid" A: You may have already clicked the link. If you can't access your account, you can reset your password on this page  
  • Q: What if I move? A: We will email you before we ship your Pebble so you can change your address if necessary at account.getpebble.com.
  • Q: Help! I can't access my old email account. A: Please email your new address and your old email address, with your Amazon payment ID from the payment confirmation you received on May 19th to kickstarter@getpebble.com
  • Q: Can I add more Pebbles to my order? A: You can place new pre-orders at www.getpebble.com but they will not ship with your Kickstarter rewards.
  • Q: Does upgrading to a Color option change my place in the shipping order? A: No.
  • Q: Can I upgrade from Jet Black to a Color Pebble? A: Yes, you can pay $15 USD and upgrade to a Color Pebble.
  • Q: What service do you use for shipping? A: We're planning on shipping via the postal service (eg. USPS). 
  • Q: Will you mark the package as a gift or mis-state the value? A: The value on each package will be at least $99 USD.
  • Q: Can I get a white band for my Orange Pebble? A: We are shipping the orange Pebble with a Black band. We may offer the option to purchase an extra white strap at a later date.
  • Q: What does the Grey (and other colors) look like in Real Life? A: We are working hard on plastic samples. We'll post pictures as soon as we get them. 
  • Q: Can I pay shipping or upgrade using Paypal? A: No, the system only accepts credit card (Visa, Mastercard, Amex, Discovery, JCB, Diners Club) or US debit cards.
  • Q: I pledged X and I only get the choice for Y watches! A: Please send us an email and we'll fix it. It may take us a few days to work our way through all our emails though.

If you have any questions, please email kickstarter@getpebble.com

Tidbits from around the Pebble world

  • Shipping test has been working out well. We sent 120 test shipments to a few backers around the world to test our logistics provider and optimize the process to ensure that packages arrive safely, quickly and with as few fees as possible to our backers.
  • Backers, you've been asking about the backlight! We'll post a video on our social media accounts (twitter/Facebook/Vimeo) showing it off fairly soon
  • Andrew is in Taiwan right now working on our production test plan (among other things). Here are the latest pics  
  • Here's a short video of a pug-based screen saver/graphics test on a pre-production Pebble. This is NOT the real strap, just a random sample I had on-hand. 

As usual, we'll continue posting small updates in between our Kickstarter Updates on Twitter.com/pebble, Facebook.com/getpebble, Pinterest.com/getpebble and responding to questions on the Pebble Forum.

Thanks again for backing us, Pebblers!

Eric + Pebble Team


Update #18

User Interface Preview + Updates

Update

Bit of business before we get to the cool demo. I'd like to apologize for the abrupt way that I mentioned we would not be able to begin shipping Pebbles in September (in Update 17). It's clear now that this information should have been highlighted and discussed more thoroughly. 

Planning and scheduling a major manufacturing project is complex. We're working hard to complete the interconnected tasks that make up the production process. For me and the hardware engineers on the project, a large percentage of our time is spent exchanging complex spreadsheets filled with components specs by email, Skyping about the dimensions of minute hardware requirements and IMing our manufacturing team and factory. Not super exciting. That's why we've decided to share the more interesting stuff (photos, video and more!) in updates.

Our goal is to provide you with accurate information and interesting examples of our progress via these updates. We're working quickly, but we don't want to compromise on quality. While we won't be posting a shipping date until we're extremely certain that we'll be able to meet it, our feeling is that by monitoring our progress by the updates you'll have an excellent feel for how the project is going. When we do share the ship date, it won't be too surprising because you'll have seen the project come together in these updates. 

Ask-Me-Anything about Pebble today at 11am Pacific!

I can only go into so much detail during these updates. That's why I'll be hosting a thread on Reddit (www.reddit.com/r/pebble) today at 11am Pacific (2pm EST, midnight Mumbai) where you can ask me any other questions you might have about Pebble.

User Interface (UI) Preview

Martijn is Pebble's User Interface designer and iOS developer. Check out the video in high resolution (full screen for best effect) for a preview of the Pebble UI. Keep in mind this is just a preview and subject to change as we continue to develop the software. For example, the font size is customizable, eg you can select to have emails shown on screen in arger print. The next step is to implement this UI for the watch itself and test it thoroughly on a prototype Pebble.

Martijn used iOS to create a prototype Pebble for quick designing. Here is an example of an incoming email on Pebble.

Incoming call

Music control - You can skip tracks by double tapping the centre button

Other random tidbits from the Pebble world

  • Starting a shipping test. Volunteer Pebblers around the world will receive an empty shipment from us to determine how long the shipping process will take. Thanks Twitter followers!
  • Started working on the Manufacturing Test Plan (MTP)
  • Ran into an antenna issue. Working through it with a bunch of antenna experts. We'll figure it out.
  • Started tooling on a bunch of simple components like the USB charge cable and shipping box
  • Tested tons of different watch strap samples to make sure we get the texture just right
  • Ordered 500,000 more resistors. You can never have too many resistors!
  • We're working on a Pebble Account page where backers can update their shipping information.
  • In the next update, we'll post more info about the software development progress.

That's it for now. Thanks again for backing us, Pebblers!

Eric + Pebble team.


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