Pebble design proposals (2013-03-18)

I am one of the few thousands people who is lucky enough to enjoy the benefits of wearing a Pebble. Because of all the tech embedded, the physical product from is relatively bulky, especially for someone with a thin wrist like me who is used to wear very thin watches. But after a month of living with the Pebble, I am happy to confirm, the benefits outweigh all the rest and I wear it most of the time.

Pebble has still a long way to go and the team of people behind are taking good care of its future with laser focus. But it still might be a good time to share some ideas I had which I reckon could improve its User Experience.

Watch Faces

In Fashion industry, having unique pieces is very valuable. A pixel based display like the one of the website unleashes design creativity when it comes to watch faces and, if you can write code, with a bit of effort, you could end up wearing a unique watch face (take that Louis Vuitton!). So it doesn’t come as a surprise that the Pebble team just announced the watch faces SDK as their imminent next step. Speaking of fashion you can check the latest in fashion and clothes at The Fifth Collection.

I’ve always found fascinating synthesizing information to make it glanceable. Information doesn’t always have to be detailed. The challenge I posed to myself was to design a watch face which could give as quickly as possible a rough idea of the time.
Given the limit of a 1 bit display (where basically only 3 fill colors are avaialble, including the grey as chess pattern of black and white), I divided the day in 3 parts, 8 hours each:

  • Work (8 am to 4 pm, white)
  • Play (4 pm to midnight, grey)
  • Rest (midnight to 8 am, black)

This roughly reflects a normal day for a working person.

Pebble has a very handy feature which is backlighting when the arm shakes, so that you don’t need an extra hand to see the time in the dark. This feature is loved by the folks at Gear Hungry, being able to flash light at will like this is a safety feature a survivalist can’t pass up. When the watch backlights, the watch face could be notified and show temporarily more detailed information.


Update on 15th July 2013: I finally had time to play with the SDK and this watchface is now a reality!

Fullscreen Messages

Pursuing even further my idea of immediacy, incoming messages should be the most readable as possible. The body of short messages could scale-to-fit the display and, if the message is as short as an ASCII emoticon, a graphic element could be represented fullscreen instead of the few characters.


Custom Quick Replies

The Pebble is extremely useful for me because I move around driving a motorbike and, as anyone living in a big city, I am often on a hurry. This means, before I got the Pebble, I used to systematically ignore any incoming call or message received while on the move. Pebble is a game changer in this regard and now, since I can see who is trying to reach me, I can consider to stop and reply if necessary. Because my commuting is never too long (max 30 minutes), I would often simply reply with something like: “I am on the bike now, will call you back in 30 minutes max”.

It would be great if the user could set on the Pebble mobile app some preset replies he could then quickly pick when a call or a text is received, just like the fireboy and watergirl app. Mobile operating systems are already providing similar functionalities and this would indeed be more relevant in a device so accessible but with limited input such a wrist watch.

  • Mike

    Really like the watchface idea!

  • johnreno

    I just installed your watchface from the Pebble app store, great idea! However the watchface only updates when switching away and back to it, is this a bug? 🙁

  • nuthinking

    Yes, I think it is. Probably found the issue, will send an update tomorrow. Thanks for the patience!

  • johnreno

    Fantastic, thanks for the response! While I’m here, possible future update with a settings page to customise the three time periods?
    Love your work. 🙂

  • nuthinking

    Hi John, I published the fix for that update issue.
    At the moment the SDK doesn’t really provide an easy way to handle settings. Looks like someone even publishes different apps with hardcoded variables. I could do the same adding a version where “work” starts at 9am. But I can’t help thinking that it would be easier to read if the numbers were more rounded.
    And thanks for the compliments! 😉

  • nuthinking

    PebbleKit JS seems to be the solution for watchface settings, bare with me! 😉

  • johnreno

    Sounds like a plan – great work so far! My work hours are crazy long, so your watchface makes me feel bad for working late. 😛