About this project
If you missed our Kickstarter campaign, you will still be able to get your own AGENT smartwatch. Please visit agentwatches.com for more info.
Let's talk about a generational leap forward in smartwatch technology.
Smartwatch batteries are less than 10% the size of smartphone batteries. Yet while we're thrilled when a smartphone lasts the entire day on a charge, we're frustrated when a tiny smartwatch battery doesn't last the week.
So smartwatch designers have compromised to conserve battery power—limiting us to simple apps, minimal connectivity and primitive developer tools.
We weren't willing to compromise. So we spent the last year testing and integrating the very best new technologies from around the world, eliminating limitations of the past.
We've created the first smartwatch that doesn't compromise, with both unparalleled battery life and powerful watch apps. With two-way communication to smartphones and amazing developer tools that you can download today. And with so much more.
This is AGENT, a brand-new generation of smartwatch. Please join us on a tour.
We want to wear our watches everywhere, so Secret Labs teamed up with NYC watchmaker House of Horology to craft a beautiful watch that matches any outfit.
You can switch from one watchface to another with the press of a button, matching your style or your mood. And you can download additional watchfaces through your smartphone.
Works with your Smartphone
AGENT talks to your smartphone using Bluetooth, enabling convenient control of your music library and acting as a wrist-based display for smartphone apps.
Our powerful Bluetooth firmware makes it possible for smartphone apps to work with your watch, no inter-process communication or white-listing required.
AGENT also displays incoming calls and notifications. And it vibrates to let you know when you've accidentally left your phone behind.
Compatible with iPhone 4S or newer, Android 2.3+ and Windows Phone 8.
Connected Watch Apps (Bluetooth Classic + 4.0 LE)
Like your smartphone, AGENT runs downloadable apps.
These apps can talk to traditional Bluetooth devices such as smartphones and heart rate monitors (for exercise apps) as well as the new generation of Bluetooth Low Energy devices such as door locks (so you can leave your physical keys behind).
Working with your smartphone, watch apps can also retrieve info from the Internet, keeping you up to date with the things that are most important to you.
Powerful watch apps demand a powerful processor. But powerful processors drain batteries quickly.
For long battery life, a smartwatch's processor remains in sleep mode most of the time. While last year's processors consume 300μA in sleep mode, AGENT's brand-new ARM Cortex-M4 processor consumes just 33μA (11% as much power).
And to keep that processor in sleep mode as much as possible, we added a much smaller secondary processor. The second processor takes care of housekeeping duties and events and itself remains in a super-low-power 0.1μA sleep mode most of the time.
Precision Power Metering
Because watch batteries are so small, watch apps must be designed for battery efficiency. But since power metering chips consume too much power, smartwatches have lacked the tools necessary to power-optimize watch apps.
So we've been stuck with simple apps that get decent battery life—or more sophisticated apps that can drain battery and ruin the user's experience.
Thankfully, recent hardware innovations in coulomb counting, combined with some really smart software, enable AGENT to provide precision power metering on demand without sacrificing battery life. This gives developers the tools they need to create sophisticated Bluetooth-connected watch apps which are also battery friendly.
Traditional smartwatches run apps in an unrestricted environment. This can lead to memory leaks, lockups, and permanently disabled watches. Without access controls, apps can even steal private data from other apps.
Smartphones solve these issues through sophisticated security frameworks and managed runtimes. AGENT's OS includes a managed runtime, optimized for our low-power architecture. It is called the .NET Micro Framework and it makes watch apps trustable.
This feature-rich managed runtime also offers developers modern features they crave: event-based programming; multi-threading; garbage collection; lambda expressions; exception handling; automatic power management; and much more.
World-class Development Tools
Watch apps can be written in C# using Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 (including the free Express edition). Deploy your apps over Bluetooth and debug them interactively.
Developers can also use AGENT as a secondary display, interacting with it remotely via Bluetooth from their Objective-C, C#, or Java smartphone app.
We've also created a desktop emulator, making it easy for developers to start creating watch apps while we are hard at work getting your smartwatch ready for your wrist. We will release the preview version of the emulator right after the Kickstarter campaign ends and will release the final version this autumn.
High Speed Memory Display
Traditional LCDs can display smooth user interfaces, but they're very power hungry. E-paper displays are very energy efficient, but their slow refresh rates don't allow for animations.
So AGENT uses a new 1.28" Sharp Memory Display which combines the best aspects of both technologies: fast animations; high clarity outdoor-readable display; and ultra-low (~20uA) power consumption.
This new memory display also runs at a lower voltage than the last generation, eliminating energy-wasting voltage boosters from our electrical design.
We love MicroUSB for charging our devices, but AGENT needs to be water resistant. And we are not big fans of proprietary charging cables.
Qi (pronounced 'chee') is a global standard for wireless charging, and we are building it into the AGENT smartwatch. Simply set your watch on the included Qi charging pad (or any other Qi charging pad) from time to time to keep the battery topped off.
No wires, no hassle. The included charging pad is compact and powered by MicroUSB. If you have a Qi charging pad from Energizer, JBL, LG, Nexus, Nokia, or Panasonic those will work too.
Motion and Light Sensors
AGENT senses motion in three dimensions with an integrated 3-axis accelerometer. Motion data is available to apps on demand and via timestamped motion events. Use your smartwatch as a pedometer, a sleep tracker or a game controller.
Two integrated light sensors (both broadband and infrared-only) work together to measure ambient light, enabling AGENT to intelligently illuminate the display in dim lighting conditions. And of course apps can retrieve the current ambient light level anytime.
Fail-safe Recovery Modes
Since AGENT firmware is updated wirelessly, we built fail-safe recovery modes into our hardware design. This ensures that firmware updates cannot disable your watch.
We incorporated bootable dual-bank flash, so we can store two sets of our recovery mode software. If a firmware update is aborted—even while updating the recovery mode software itself—its backup automatically recovers and lets you start the update over again.
And in the rare case that your watch gets into a bad state, our second processor can reset the watch and force it into recovery mode.
Advanced Power Management
7 days of battery life with Bluetooth. 30 days of battery life in watchface-only mode. This is the minimum standard we set for AGENT.
So behind all our premium energy-sipping components lies an advanced power management system. With three separate ultra-efficient power converters and custom power management software, AGENT is optimized to allocate every microwatt of battery power wisely.
And when the watch reaches 10% battery remaining, it automatically switches into watchface-only mode. This ensures that your watch still provides basic timekeeping functions if you're away from power for a few days.
AGENT features an accent-stitched watch strap. Available in six accent colors (orange, black, green, red, blue and white), these standard 22mm watch straps can be swapped without specialized tools.
UPDATE (22-May-2013): Thanks to extra funding from our backers, you will be able to choose between a genuine leather watch strap and a silicon rubber watch strap (leather straps pictured above).
UPDATE (31-May-2013): We now have an extra-long watchstrap (20mm longer) option. The extra-long watchstraps will be available in a subset of accent-stitching colors (black and white stitching), in both genuine leather and silicon rubber materials.
We will send you a survey before shipment, so that you can select your watch strap's accent stitching color. The default accent stitching is white, as seen in the video.
Assembled in USA
Secret Labs manufactures its electronics products in the USA. Likewise, we plan to assemble AGENT's advanced circuit boards and the watch itself in the USA.
Building AGENT smartwatches in the USA speeds our time to market, reduces our manufacturing risk, and enables us to build the watch with exacting standards. It also helps employ our neighbors, which we love.
Every AGENT smartwatch will come with a limited 2-year warranty. This will cover the replaceable battery under normal usage circumstances.
- 120MHz ARM Cortex-M4 processor
with secondary AVR co-processor
- 1.28" Memory Display (128 x 128)
with intelligent backlighting
- Anti-glare glass lens
- Bluetooth 4.0 BD/EDR + LE
- 3-axis accelerometer
- Ambient light sensor
- Vibration motor
- 7 days battery life (typical)
30 days in watchface-only mode
- Qi wireless charging
- Water resistant (ATMs: TBD)
- AGENT OS 1.0
including .NET Micro Framework 4.3
- RoHS, Pb-free
- Designed for repair and recycling
including replaceable battery
About the Creators
Secret Labs engineers and manufactures electronics platforms for software developers. Our open-source Netduino product line (launched in 2010) is used by 10,000s of software developers worldwide as the basis for their custom electronics projects.
Secret Labs also builds hardware, software, and services in the smart home and building control industries—with years of experience working with wireless technologies and building robust protocol stacks.
House of Horology crafts fashion-forward, precision timepieces. Their Bedlam watches are popular on both runways and wrists. New York Magazine just named them "Best Men's Watches of 2013."
House of Horology's passion is to create premium timepieces without the huge price tag.
The Road to Your Wrist
The watches in the video are the latest prototype watches, with cases precision-milled out of aluminum and powder coated black. We are evaluating several premium case materials for production watches and will select the final material based on beauty and wireless performance.
Our prototype watches use ARM7 processors, Bluetooth Classic, and a wireless charging breakout board. For production, we are using our dual-processor design, a dual-mode Bluetooth radio (including Bluetooth LE), and our custom-designed wireless receiver coil (integrated into the caseback).
We have completed design of the electronic circuitry for production AGENT watches, and we have ported our operating system to the new Atmel Cortex-M4 microcontroller. We have also built validation boards using the production circuitry and are using those boards now to optimize our power management and to integrate Bluetooth Low Energy support into AGENT OS.
Upon successful funding of this Kickstarter campaign, we will use raised funds to create watchcase molds and production circuit boards. We will then obtain the necessary international certifications for wireless radio and wireless power devices (FCC, CE, Qi). We also need to pay for one-time engineering costs for items like our custom backlight assembly.
And most excitingly, we'll be ordering a rather large volume of processors, screens, batteries, and more...to make AGENT watches for our backers.
- May-June 2013: Kickstarter campaign
- June-September 2013 - Order parts for backer rewards and watchcase molds; build production circuit boards; finish support for Bluetooth Low Energy mode
- October 2013 - FCC, CE, and Qi certification
- November 2013 - parts arrive, pilot production begins
- December 2013 - volume production begins
During this process, we will share snapshots of the journey: eddy current testing for our custom wireless charging coil and materials selection; radio frequency test results where we ensure that AGENT stays within FCC limits; details about final backlight illumination testing; and more.
We're excited to take this journey with you, to make AGENT a reality together.
Risks and challenges
Every technology project has risks and challenges.
Before starting this Kickstarter campaign, we created the electrical circuitry and core software for the AGENT smartwatch. That is the riskiest part of the project, and we felt that we needed to take that risk ourselves.
As we move towards production, our main challenges are in final integration, wireless certifications, and parts deliveries.
The AGENT smartwatch is a combination of electronics, software, and watch hardware. We are confident in our design. To deliver a premium product, it is sometimes necessary to spend extra time tuning circuit board designs, refining software, or adjusting mechanical tolerances.
Our smartwatch has both wireless communication and wireless charging. We are working with testing firms who have years of experience in their respective areas so we expect the certification process to go smoothly. That said, with wireless products it is sometimes necessary to tweak coil designs or RF shielding a bit to meet efficiency goals or regulatory requirements.
Finally, we have integrated cutting-edge components into the AGENT smartwatch. Brand-new components sometimes incur longer lead times. We have excellent relationships with these component suppliers and are coordinating closely with them to ensure that parts arrive on time.
We are driven to get your AGENT smartwatch off the assembly line and onto your wrist; we will let you know if we run into unexpected delays.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
We will provide a straightforward store experience on your phone where you can discover and search for watchfaces and watch apps—and then install them to your watch.
You can also side-load apps from a PC, from the web, from within another app, and even from within another app store. AGENT is not a closed ecosystem, and we want you to have the freedom to download any app or content to your watch.
AGENT has a dual-mode radio, supporting both Classic Bluetooth and the new Bluetooth Low Energy mode.
The AGENT watchcase is black. Its watchstrap is accent-stitched, and you can choose from the following accent color options: orange; black; green; red; blue; white.
Our default exercise app can display your heart rate as measured by a Bluetooth heart rate monitor, such as the Zephyr chest strap worn by our female jogger. We will provide a full list of compatible heart rate monitors later this year.
AGENT can also retrieve your elapsed distance from your smartphone's GPS receiver via Bluetooth.
AGENT supports Unicode (UTF-8) text. We are licensing several international fonts from Monotype, the global leader in typography.
Every AGENT smartwatch will ship with Latin language support (English and most European and South American languages). We will also support Cyrillic (Russian, etc.), Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Hebrew fonts.
The following chart lists the script used for international languages:
If your native language is not yet supported, please contact us. We hope to support additional languages in the future.
We have already started working to ensure that your reward shipment conforms to EU and German customs requirements. Your smartwatch reward will carry the CE logo, will include required conformance declarations in the box, etc.
If you have any specific concerns, please write us!
AGENT is compatible with iPhone 4S or newer, Android 2.3.3+ and Windows Phone 8.
You will need Android 2.3.3 (Gingerbread) or newer. Earlier versions of Android did not include API support for Bluetooth connectivity between your Android phone and your smartwatch.
We're currently focused on delivering an amazing smartwatch integration experience for iPhone, Android, and Windows Phones.
We have conducted some initial evaluation of the new BlackBerry OS to see if the Android companion app would run on Blackberry in Android mode. But it appears that a number of necessary Android APIs aren't supported yet.
You will need an iPhone 4S or newer. iPhone 4 and earlier do not support the new Bluetooth Low Energy technology required to communicate between smartphone apps and your AGENT smartwatch. iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 have Bluetooth LE baked right in!
You will need Windows Phone 8 or newer. Windows Phone 7 did not include support for Bluetooth communications between smartphone apps and smartwatches. But Windows Phone 8 is ready to go!
Yes, absolutely. Secret Labs is a big proponent of open source software, and our Netduino electronics platform is open source hardware as well.
The AGENT OS includes the .NET Micro Framework runtime which is Apache 2.0 licensed. One of our amazing Netduino community members, David Stetz, ported the runtime to run on the brand new SAM4S microcontroller family.
We will be releasing the SAM4S port of the .NET Micro Framework runtime as open source later this year when we start shipping smartwatches to backers, helping enable other software developers to build their own hardware.
Our project video was filmed by our friends at ClickPlayFilms (www.clickplayfilms.com).
Thank you for helping us make such an awesome video!
Every AGENT smartwatch will come with a limited 2-year warranty. This will cover the replaceable battery under normal usage circumstances.
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