Smart Pocket Watch Brings Class Back
To bring that class back to modern timekeeping, Vishal Soni designed a smart pocket watch called DigiPclock.
Pocket watches were already outdated long before smartphones came along, but smartphones are kind of pocket watches in their own right when you think about it. They have the same problem as pocket watches: inconvenience. It takes a moment to pull a pocket watch or a smartphone out to check the time (or a notification). Smartwatches have solved this problem, but they lack class. To bring that class back to modern timekeeping, Vishal Soni designed a smart pocket watch called DigiPclock.
DigiPclock looks like a pocket watch and functions like one. It was designed to slip into a pocket and to show the time on a digital traditional watch face, but other watch faces are certainly possible. DigiPclock is quite thick, but the round body is compact enough to slip into a pocket without too much trouble (though you may not want to wear your skinny jeans). At this time, its only purpose is to display the time. But the underlying hardware supports quite a lot more functionality, so developers can create apps like those that users have come to expect on their smartwatches.
At the heart of that hardware there is a DFRobot Beetle ESP32-C3, which is a very small development board with all of the power of the ESP32 microcontroller. That was paired with a GC9A01 1.28" round LCD module, which is a full-color model perfect for watches. Power comes from a 600mAh lithium battery. The DFRobot Beetle has its own onboard lithium charging and distribution hardware, so no additional components are necessary for charging. The ESP32 has its own built-in RTC (real-time clock) module, eliminating the need for a dedicated module. The enclosure is 3D-printable.
Most of Soni's work here went into programming the watch functionality. Battery capacity is at a premium, so the code includes a sleep mode to reduce power consumption as much as possible. Users can set the time using a web interface hosted by DigiPclock. All they have to do is use their phone to connect to the WiFi network broadcast by DigiPclock. They will then receive a notification that lets them pull up the website where they can set the time.
DigiPclock is pretty basic right now, but it has a lot of potential and further software development would increase its appeal.