I’m a geek, I’m an early adopter, I ain’t afraid’a beta… well, you get the picture. I recently purchased a brand new-to-the-market device called the inPulse watch. This thing is sweet. It not only is a stylish digital watch, but it is also a companion device to your smartphone, in my case, the BlackBerry.
So, how is it a companion device? It connects to my phone via Bluetooth and alerts me when I receive phone calls, emails, text and BBM messages. It also displays upcoming calendar events. It won’t show any of the text in a BlackBerry Messenger message, just an icon, but it does show who is calling, and I can read text messages and email previews, plus it vibrates with each of these functions. This is really convenient for those times when you can’t get to your phone because you’re in meeting or you want to see who is trying to contact you so you can determine right then if you want to pull your phone out to respond. Let’s start with the out of the box experience.
The watch arrived in a neat little white box with the watch wrapped securely in bubble wrap, accompanied by a white microUSB cable and a simple card from Eric Migicovsky, the company’s CEO, with a couple of links to get you started. I should note that this device is very versatile in that you can hack it, which they encourage, to do a variety of functions. The watch comes in Black Anodized or Metallic Silver, both with a sturdy black rubber band, and the casing is a little on the large side (51mm x 38 mm x 12mm) but my thought on that is a lot of stylish watches are rather large these days, so this one stands out a bit because of its retro digital styling.
The first thing that needs to be done is loading an app for the phone that is used as a control panel for the watch. Once the app is loaded on your phone, you will need to add the firmware to the watch. They let the user do this because this watch is compatible with not only BlackBerry, but select Android devices as well. Once the firmware is loaded via the microUSB cable connected to your computer, you have to establish a connection between the phone and the watch.
To connect the two devices, the typical Bluetooth pairing operation is the first step. Once you have them paired, the watch will immediately disconnect and vibrate once. Now you need to go to the app on the phone where the first screen you have upon opening the app is the settings screen. At the top of the list is “Send Test Messages” which establishes and confirms a connection between the devices. Here you can send a test email, text, BBM or phone call to the watch. If you have trouble making the connection, a simple reset of the watch can be achieved by holding down the button for about eight seconds and once the time display returns, send another test message.
The 1.3 inch, 96 x 128 pixel organic light-emitting-diode (OLED) display offers fourteen different colours to use for the fonts and time display. This is cool. You have a choice of seven different styles for clock fonts and six different fonts for text. Customizing your inPulse is a breeze. In the Preferences section of the Settings just select the font of the colour from the drop down list in the app, hit the escape key to go back to the previous page and it changes in the watch within seconds. If you have multiple email accounts on your BlackBerry like I do, you can set it to vibrate differently for each one so you know which account is alerting you.
The time on the watch is set with the time on the phone and includes an alarm where you can customize the alarm message. When the alarm goes off, the watch vibrates, and displays a clock icon and your personal message. One thing I’ve found though is I’ve unchecked the “Enable Alarm” box in the alarm settings, but it continues to go off every day at the set time. It’s not a big issue but I’m sure Allerta will fix this in a firmware update.
For a device with such a light set of technical specs, it can perform a decent bit of functions. But, then again, the functionality comes from the application on the phone. The watch runs on a 52 MHz ARM7 microcontroller with 32 KB of programming space and 8 KB of RAM. The 150mAh lithium-ion polymer battery can last up to four days (depending on display and connection usage) before you need to charge it via microUSB. I just plug it in every night so I don’t have to worry about it.
The Allerta inPulse smartwatch is one sweet device that I’ve been waiting almost two years to get from the time I first heard about it. It’s designed by a Canadian company based in Waterloo, Ontario and is so new, most people will not have heard of it. I have definitely impressed a few people with it so far and look forward to continuing to do so. You can see more information about the watch and the company who makes it at http://getinpulse.com. They’re such a great group of people. Even the CEO, Eric, has been so helpful in my ordering process that he communicated with me personally via email. You don’t get that kind of service from just any company.
This is a very quick review of the inPulse watch. I may not have covered everything in great detail, but I think I can say that this is one device that any geek would be sure to love. And by the way, being a geek is cool these days.