Pebble doubles down on modular smartstraps for Pebble Time

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A work-in-progress peek at what we might expect from Pebble Time smartstraps

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When Pebble announced its Kickstarter record-shattering Pebble Time smartwatch (and its Steel counterpart), one part of the announcement that was easy to miss was its smartstraps. The modular component of Pebble Time lets hardware developers create their own add-ons for the watch, to make it as smart as you want it to be. Today Pebble is doubling down on the initiative, pledging US$1 million to fund smartstrap development.

Smartstraps for Pebble Time have the potential to create a hardware development community as enthusiastic as the grassroots app development we've seen for the original Pebble and Pebble Steel. The premise is simple: hardware developers can create bands with add-ons that interact electronically with the watch. This opens the door to things like standalone cellular capabilities, NFC ("Pebble Pay," anyone?), GPS or heart rate monitors.

Pebble says the bands will be easily swappable, with the ability to switch them in as little as five to 10 seconds.

In the spirit of crowdfunding that Pebble built its own success on, it's pledging one million dollars to support makers of smartstraps. The company is going to monitor Kickstarter (and other crowdfunding platforms), with an eye out for smartstrap projects, and back the ones it believes are the most innovative. Though it won't back all of them, it says even projects that don't get funded could potentially get promotion through Pebble's website or Kickstarter update page.

Though Pebble Time has a simple feature set compared to the Apple Watch, Samsung Gear and Android Wear watches, smartstraps could fill in some of those gaps for Pebble owners who want a more powerful or versatile experience. Though Pebble is at something of a crossroads, with more deep-pocketed players entering the smartwatch market, the company has shown a savviness of late (with its return to Kickstarter and clever initiatives like smartstraps) that reveals a company that plans on sticking around.

Pebble Time has raised over $19 million on Kickstarter (over 38x its original goal), and still has eight days to go. The first units are scheduled to ship to backers in May.

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