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Bangle.js- a Javascript Smartwatch

An open smartwatch for makers? With Javascript-IDE? What is the Bangle.js smartwatch and who is behind it? And is it fun to develop software for it?

Raspi, Arduino – these are well-known hardware plattforms for makers and hardware geeks.But there are many more on the market beside these two. One of these platforms is Espruino.The original Espruino platform runs a javascript interpreter on micro controller hardware. The tiny javascript interpreter with huge functionality is a neat project of Gordon Williams and the core of Espruino. The interpreter became open source and can be ported to other devices - if you have the knowledge to do so. The business model relies on the sale of preinstalled controllers. The platform has been funded by several successful Kickstarter projects.

a bangle.js smartwatch

The latest Kickstarter project form Gordon Williams was the Bangle.js smartwatch. I backed this intersting project - and got my smartwatch at the beginning of 2020. The watch itself is a off-the-shelf product. It’s firmware has been replaced by the Espruino software. The watch is powered by a Nordic nRF52832 ARM Cortex-M4 with 64kB RAM featuring a 1.3 inch 240x240 16 bit LCD display with two touch areas, GPS, Glonass, heart rate monitor, accelerometer, magnetometer and vibration. The included GPS is a bit unuseful since it drains the battery too much.

The details of the hardware are encapsulated by the javascript environment, so that you are able to develop on a very high abstraction level. However a very interesting challenge is to deal with limitations such as small display and 64kB RAM. Just to mention: this is not a limitation of the Espruino platform, but simply of the hardware and exactly this makes fun if you come from web or backend development with javascript and nearly endless resources. Developping is straight-forward: There is a web-based IDE which can communication via web bluetooth with the Bangle.js. Even if you don’t plan to develop apps, you may get apps from the online app loader. All are open source, javascript and you can learn from them. Development is easy if you are familiar with javascript. As usual the development is event-driven and there is a very good documentation as well as tutorials. And yes, it’s fun to develop - just because it’s neither Google nor Apple - just javascript on some hardware.

December 1, 2020
Words: 400 | Reading Time: 2 min

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