Agent sparks another smartwatch funding frenzy on Kickstarter
By Darren Quick
May 22, 2013
The Pebble smartwatch is one of the standout Kickstarter success stories, attracting over US$10 million in funds to exceed its $100,000 target more than 100 times over. Another smartwatch is following a similar trajectory on the crowdfunding site, exceeding its own $100,000 goal in a day. While the Agent smartwatch shares some things in with common with the Pebble, it also boasts a number of features that set it apart.
Created by custom electronics outfit Secret Labs and watchmakers the House of Horology, – both based in New York – the Agent sports the same kind of “memory LCD” backlit black and white display made by Sharp as the Pebble. However, whereas the Pebble features a 1.26-inch rectangular 144 x 168 pixel display, the Agent’s display is square, measuring 1.28 inches with 128 x 128 pixel resolution.
Regardless of the aspect ratio, both watches will benefit from the display’s low power requirements, with the Agent also boasting an advanced power management system that helps the device achieve a promised seven days of battery life under typical use, or around 30 days in watchface-only mode. The Agent’s rechargeable battery is also user replaceable.
Both smartwatches also feature an ambient light sensor, 3-axis accelerometer, vibrating motor and connects to a smartphone via Bluetooth. The Agent supports Bluetooth 4.0 BD/EDR + LE and the Pebble recently added Bluetooth 4.0 support.
Setting the Agent apart is its dual-processor design that puts a 120 MHz ARM Cortex-M4 processor alongside a secondary AVR co-processor. This allows the watch to conserve battery power by having the power-sipping secondary processor take care of housekeeping duties and events and calling the main processor into action when needed for heavy lifting. The creators say this combination allows for a more powerful unit that is “the world’s smartest watch.”
Another point of difference is the recharging method. Whereas the Pebble recharges via USB, the Agent can be recharged wirelessly using a Qi charging pad. This has allowed the Agent to boast a water resistant design, the actual specifications of which are yet to be decided. The Pebble also recently added water resistance to its list of specs, with the certification level also still to be settled.
Unlike the Pebble, which currently limits compatibility to iOS and Android devices, the Agent adds support for Windows Phone 8 to the mix and aims to attract app developers with a custom AGENT OS based on the .NET Micro Framework 4.3 and the ability to write apps in C# using Microsoft Visual Studio 2012. The team has already created a number of apps to demonstrate the Agent’s capabilities, some of which can be seen in the video below.
The Secret Lab team has completed the design of the Agent’s electronic circuitry and the House of Horology has finalized the casing design – although the final materials for the production version are yet to be decided. Having already shot past their initial goal, the team now has the funds to get the necessary certifications and get the Agent into production.
The US$129 tier to get an Agent smartwatch has already been filled, leaving $149 as the minimum pledge to secure a unit. Deliveries are expected to begin in December.
The Kickstarter video pitch for the Agent smartwatch can be seen below.
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