The Pebble smartwatch: Kickstarter's record-shattering $10 million project
Silicon Valley's Eric Migicovsky had a vision for a watch that would seamlessly and wirelessly sync with his smartphone, alerting him to incoming calls, texts, and emails. His idea, eventually dubbed Pebble, attracted the attention of business incubator Y Combinator and raised $375,000 from a few angel investors. "Then he hit a roadblock," says Mark Milian at Bloomberg. "A big one." Pebble couldn't raise any more money, and the project screeched to a halt. So Migicovsky turned to the popular "crowd-funding" website Kickstarter, and suddenly, Pebble had scored an astonishing $10 million investment. (Watch Migicovsky's video pitch below.) Here, a guide to the multi-million dollar wristwatch's incredible journey:
What exactly does this watch do?
The waterproof smartwatch syncs with either an iPhone or Android via Bluetooth, and displays incoming messages (like texts, tweets, emails, and weather updates) on its 1.26-inch LCD screen. What separates the watch from others, however, is what the team calls an e-paper display, says Alexandra Chang at Wired, which supplies a "sharp, paper-like reading experience" that's clear even in direct sunlight.
Does it boast any other features?
Yes. The watch comes with a built-in accelerometer, and buttons on the watch let you control your smartphone from your wrist. (So, for instance, if your iPhone is plugged into a set of speakers across the room, you can use Pebble's controls to change the song from the couch.) But where Pebble "truly shines" is the software department, says Chang. Pebble is partnering with third-party developers like RunKeeper, a popular running and fitness app, which uses GPS and other tools to track your fitness while on the move. So while your iPhone stays tucked safely in your pocket, information like time, distance, and miles per hour are beamed directly to your wrist.
How quickly did they raise $10 million?
Very quickly. Tech blogs like Engadget quickly caught wind of the start-up, and interest exploded. The Pebble team managed to meet its initial fundraising goal of $100,000 in two short hours, and had scored $1 million within a single day. Initially, Kickstarter investors were promised prototypes of the watch if they donated more than $100, but the limit was capped at 85,000 due to overwhelming demand. With $10 million and counting, Pebble has smashed Kickstarter's previous project record of $3.3 million.
How can I get one?
You'll have to be patient. Eventually, the watch will retail for $149, and can be ordered at GetPebble.com. Its creators hope to have the gadget ready to ship by September.