Smartwatches are very convenient to use, because they can free you from having to hold your smartphone too often. But for some people, smartwatches are a bit too complex and they have features that are rarely used. If you are a more technical person and willing to tinker with devices, the Watchy can be an interesting alternative. It only has 1.54-inch monochromatic e-paper display with 200×200 pixel resolution, instead of full-colour OLED display. Despite the lack of rich colours, the e-paper display offers great viewing angles when you use it under direct sunlight. Unfortunately, there’s no backlight, so you need to use your smartphone as flashlight to use the screen. Before using the Watchy, you need to assemble it.
You need to connect the battery and the display to the ESP32 mainboard using the provided sticky tape. The next step is to attach the watch strap to the device. Features include Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, haptic notification with vibration and 3-axis accelerometer to sense motions. On the side, there are four physical buttons. Unfortunately, there’s no dedicated heart-rate monitoring and the whole assembly isn’t waterproofed, so you need to prevent it from getting wet. The smartwatch should be properly equipped with for an affordable $45 device. Just like other open-source products, the real benefit of the Watchy is the customization potential. For users who are familiar with coding, they can use the Arduino IDE to add their own features.
Creating your own custom watch face is just scratching the surface and it’s something that Apple doesn’t even allow with their smartwatches. If you are planning to learn coding, the manufacturer, Squarofumi, promises to publish an extensive documentation. At the moment, the content in the company’s website is quite sparse, but later, you can design 3D printed case and download watch faces. It is clear that the Watchy isn’t for everyone and casual users would be reluctant to customize it. If you have used Pebble a few years ago, the Watchy could something that you experiment with. By customizing the case, you can make the Watchy to look more like classic Gameboy or iPod. This is the kind of freedom that many smartwatch users don’t have.
The Watchy has 200mAh battery that can last for one week with minimum use. However, the battery life can be only two days if the smartwatch regularly fetches data over Wi-Fi connection. Through proper optimization, it is possible to extend the battery life further through wake up only on gestures, sleep during specific time or other rules. The ESP32 is a power-hungry board, so it is recommended to put the smartwatch to deep sleep. If you leave the smartwatch idle, it will create unwanted heat and drain the battery. Users can also maximize the battery life by disabling the Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection. If you want to customize the Watchy, you can download and install Arduino IDE and make the necessary configuration. Alternatively, you can code the Watchy with microPhyton language.