Watches can be a bit of a wind-up.
Wait, don't go — hear me out, you've come this far already...
But unless you are one of a few, incredibly talented mechanical engineers who are capable of crafting clockwork mechanisms and crown gears into watches bearing gemstones — both as cut gemstones and as gemstone-carved bearings — well, the mod scene in the mechanical watch world isn't exactly thriving.
So it's lucky that at some point, we figured out this whole electricity thing — and managed to trap some lightning inside bits of rock, refining the concept a few times — until we could browse Twitter on our coffee break. Tight.
The digital world we live in lets us keep tabs on the time we tweet away with that same level of precision found in even the most exquisitely engineered escapement mechanisms, but the mechanism of keeping track of the ticking clock is now etched out of silicon, rather than meticulously handcrafted.
We've got the ability to keep track of time with digital clocks, accurate to a tenth of a second a day, for less than two bucks with really really cheap RTC ICs — the accuracy of which only ever seems to get better with every revision!
Oh but wait, while we're going to such trouble, we may as well use some of that lightning to get the silicon shouting out on the airwaves. It's not enough that we can keep this time independently, but for a buck or two more, we can just ask the internet through the NTP.
Some readers won't recall a time before Wi-Fi.
(Fortnite crowd — I'm looking at you.)
Well, now there's Wi-Fi for your timekeeping with Watchy — a Wi-Fi and BLE-enabled, low-power, Open Source Hardware-certified smartwatch (phew!) that allows you to put your own spin on how the passing sands of time should be shown.
PCMag UK have picked up on this ePaper and RTC PCB, and coverage from the Verge has only served to drive up a surge of in interest in this timeless digital timepiece.
Hell yeah,we did. We're ahead of the times over here at Hackster!
It feels like I wrote that headline last yesterday — yet, it has been a whole year since we last saw sight of Watchy. Time flows fast!
I think we're all a lot happier to finally be moving on from the 12 months that have passed since our last piece!
We've seen a scurry of activity — so many projects popping up with fresh progress, maybe with some spare seconds ticking away, spent unglued from the news ticker.
So, it's no surprise that Watchy is also looking better than ever —because the team at SQFMIhave wisely used their time locked down to lock the design of this time piece down.
They certainly are kicking this year off with a bang!
Where as Watchy previously made use of a module-level MCU and Wi-Fi solution, the PCB stack is now monolithic, going a bit more slimline while keeping in line with the times.
With the WROOM module replaced with an ESP32-PICO-D4, this single chip SiP is capable of providing the entire ESP32 Wi-Fi/BLE MCU solution, complete with program flash and all the support components needed, from a single, QFN-packaged SiP barely some 7mm square.
Packing an ESP32-PICO-D4 in place of the previous module, means that Watchy can weigh less — and what is more, the move from module to a single PCB stack leads to a significant reduction in volume, which in turn, means Watchy sits more closely on the wearer, leaving less to lug about.
That same dual-core, 32-bit ESP32 CPU opens Watchy up to the world of handwritten apps and custom watch faces, made easily accessible to anyone through compatibility with the ubiquitous Arduino IDE especially with the well-documented watch app examples, provided by SQFMI over on their GitHub!
You can wear this Geek Chic with pride, it's homegrown hardware with open source at its heart.
With Watchy being fully certified by the OSHW (Open Source Hardware) Association, you can be sure that you can get straight to the sources of the design, giving you complete ownership of your own device — customized to fit your own functionality.
Working your way through the freely available hardware sources for Watchy is a worthwhile experience in itself, a wealth of reference on how to publish a project — polished, and ready for its first production run!
I suppose we should answer the question I can hear you all asking already: where and when do I get my hands on this digital hourglass?
Or, should that be when can I get one on my hand?
Soon, because we're about to launch it for the masses, thanks to a collaboration between SQFMI and our buddies over at GroupGets via the Hackster Launch program.
If you want one of these wearable, ePaper-enabled, wrist-worn Wi-Fi wonder boards, jump in line and get a preorder in over on the product campaign page.
Oh — is that the time?! Gotta go!