One way of adding extra functionality to smartwatches is to build it into third-party straps, and the Tylt Vü Pulse is one of the first officially approved Pebble smartstraps to break cover. It gives Pebble Time integrated heart rate monitoring, wireless charging and a custom app for logging the new data.
Almost a year ago Pebble announced it was encouraging hardware developers to come up with their own customized smartstraps to add extra features and goodies to the smartwatch line. The company has put aside US$1 million to back smartstrap projects it likes the look of, which may well include the Tylt Vü Pulse.
That said, this isn't technically speaking a strap: it's actually a polycarbonate and rubber case that your existing Pebble Time smartwatch clips into (it also sends data to Pebble Time via its smart strap connector). You can then either carry on using your existing strap or pick up a black or blue one from Tylt through the Kickstarter campaign.
Thanks to a software update in December, Pebble Time already does step and sleep tracking, but the addition of heart rate tracking brings it up to par with the likes of the Fitbit Charge HR, the Apple Watch and most other high-end trackers and smartwatches out there. Like the two devices we just mentioned, the Pulse works via photoplethysmography – a technique using a green LED light that detects how much blood is flowing through your wrist. Readings are taken every 30 minutes (in passive mode) or every 10 seconds (when you're doing some serious working out).
Data is synced back to Apple Health or Google Fit via Pebble's own tracking tool and a custom-made app that Tylt is planning to develop. As for the wireless charging, the strap supports the Qi standard favored by Tylt's various other bits of kit, so you'll need a compatible charger too.
The Kickstarter campaign needs to reach its $100,000 target first, though, and early bird prices start at $39 for a single Tylt Vü Pulse with no strap, with shipping (if all goes to plan) expected for August. Pledge $60 and you can get in on the beta testing program, which means you get your device a couple of months earlier (as long as you're willing to report back on bugs and issues). Tylt will be hoping to emulate the success of the Deus Ex Aria Kickstarter, another Pebble smartstrap that was crowdfunded last year.