English

Smartwatch / sportwatch / small sized phones

Hi,

I would like to share my idea: manufacturing / building a smartwatch similarly to the fairphone. Or making smaller phones.
I dug into myself to the latest sportwatches specifications and reviews to find the best but turned out the most expensive ones could not fulfill simple requirements: GPS and HR sensor are inaccurate and battery life is short.
I could use your modules to build the perfect device for myself but I need a smaller display, a better GPS module (maybee dual band). I would use separate HR sensor but can be inside the device. The size would be about 70x55mm or max 110mm length; thickness 9-11mm. Basically a small phone size.
This needs smaller display, smaller battery and maybe square sized mother board.
Cellular connectivity is not necessary but there will be space for it.
Is it possible to manufacture these modules?
I can help you with the outer design of the device and the modules ( I’m a mechanical engineer).
And why?: Using android for sport tracking is the best option where you can modify advanced GPS settings and get the highest accuracy with the correct app. With this size you can still see maps an the display but small enough to mount on your wrist. I think it is a market gap and not just for the sport watches but smaller smartphones too. I know a lot of people wo don’t like big screens.

Do you want a small size phone, or a smart/sport watch/tracker? It is entirely a different product! The latter ones are more akin to each other, sure. As for the former, there are people on the forum who also desire a small size Fairphone, but it is not clear how high the demand is.

Where is your primary interest in terms of idealism? Is it open hardware? Fair hardware? Open source software? Battery life?

Light Phone 2 is an expensive, small-size e-ink smartphone. I linked to it elsewhere on the forum as well because I’m into devices which “do it different”.

For most people, a sports tracker such as one from Xiaomi is Good Enough ™. A fair version (assuming that is your primary interest) could be interesting, but not easy (problem IMO is lack of demand / saturated market. See Pebble’s demise, and they didn’t even attempt to do it fairly just efficient).

Personally, I don’t want another Android device tracking my life. I don’t want a smartwatch tracking my life either. I certainly do not want an Android smartwatch/sportwatch/sport tracker/health tracker/whatever it is called. I’d be more interesting in something like AsteroidOS instead, as it does not do the tracking game (apart from supporting the available radio such as Bluetooth though), is completely FOSS, and it support a lot of mobile OSes. It also looks quite good.

A good smartwatch lasts long on battery, Bluetooth is able to be put off, it is efficient price/performance, and it fits well. A Pebble 2 lasts a week, and there are watchfaces which show a lot of information, good enough on monochrome LCD.

The only one which I found which fits this bill, is the Pebble though there are major caveats. It is neither fair nor FOSS nor open hardware. You won’t get official support (only community support via Rebble). If you buy it now you get it second hand, without warranty, and for ridiculous high price for such a product. Plus, only the 2 lasts a week. The original Pebble 1 lasted a week, sure, but with the newest firmware it will last 3 days.

I also would not want/need SIM support. 1) I would not pay extra for such data plan 2) I don’t need 24/7 connectivity and tracking on my smartwatch (don’t even need 24/7 the radios on) 3) Just give my microSD access on such device, and I can put in my entire Spotify library (you don’t have to use Spotify though) or 4) If not #3, then Bluetooth would be suffice to talk to my smartphone.

What you described is not my goal/idea. Tracking means recording the path of a hiking/trekking/running activity: counting distance, speed, elevation and heart rate OFFline and showing offline maps. I need the device on my wrist or in the backpack belt pocket which is too small for current smartphones. I think 50x70x10mm is big enough to build a better product than anything exist on the market currently. But this size can include a full phone with network connectivity to make SOS call if necessary. But network connectivity is the last what I want.
E.g. my first choice would be Garmin fenix 6 pro which is the best available sportwatch currently and not fairly priced, not repairable, the company will not upgrade in the future if the next generation comes out and currently have several bugs and inaccuracy. So I don’t want to buy it. And the GPS problems is covered up with paid reviews. The company doesn’t respect the customers and thinking of us as testers who pays the price of the tests.
A 5 years old android phone has better GPS accuracy (e.g galaxy series).
Why this company behave like this? Bc there are masses of people who use their product and they can do whatever they like. You can take a big slice from this cake with the proper highest quality device. Garmin has only 1 competitor, Suunto but this company do not offer maps, the accuracy is the same and lacking from features bc of the unique software. This is the problem with any smartwatch, there are no competitive software or OS even if the hardware is the best like Huawei watch GT2.
An outdoor adroid app (free) simply outperforms Garmin’s and any unique software, with free maps and advanced settings. SD632 chipset is enough to run it perfectly.
A new OS and new platform has no advantage, you have to develop the software from the ground and it is not easy. the tracking app which I use was developed through 5 years or more.
My goal is to make a small phone with high end sensors and about 3-4" display size which can be mount to a wrist, fits a small pocket, can be used as bike computer, etc. With full android OS. Not wearOS.
Modularity and repair-ability would be great since you can change the GPS and Bluetooth module or the display if it brokes.
There are lot of runners and outdoor obsessed sportsman who needs a reliable, accurate lightweight and small device.

1 Like

So slightly smaller than the palm phone, but still modular (despite modularity taking space) - sounds like an interesting challenge, though possibly mainly on the UI front.

These are usually integrated into the SoC. At least they are on the Fairphones. Librem do use separate hardware for at least the GPS, but those devices aren’t modular. Don’t forget about driver support.

As a side-note: you’re not very likely to get a staff response on the community forum. There was an attempt to redesign the core in the Fairphone2, but that didn’t gain any traction at Fairphone, as far as I recall.

1 Like

Right, so,

Where is your primary interest in terms of idealism? Is it open hardware? Fair hardware? Open source software? Battery life?

These mentioned are not design goals, which is fair enough.

Modularity is your primary design goal. The smaller the device, the more difficult the design with regards to modularity.

Garmin is pretty big in this field. From airplane pilots to professional hikers in Tour de France, they’re all using Garmin (the ones for pilots cost several thousand USD though).

For consumers, Xiaomi Mi Band seems a strong, cheap solution.

For people with too much money who need a feature rich smartwatch to compliment their iPhone there is the Apple Watch.

We’re generalizing, but it seems like you’re going for group A: the professional and the prosumer. Both have money which is why Garmin is priced as it is. Question is, can you reach a big enough group of people? Are you willing to write a business plan, and get active on something like Kickstarter or Indiegogo? The first and second Fairphone were financed via crowdfunding (the third as well, but differently).

You say you want a more fair price. If you go for professional/prosumer market you won’t get adequate volume which drives up your component price.

there are no competitive software or OS even if the hardware is the best like Huawei watch GT2.

True, which is what AsteroidOS tries to solve. The problem is partly software related. We got lucky with Pebble that ex-Pebble employees took an interest (they had deep knowledge of the proprietary firmware, as well as the hardware).

As for X does not do maps, I had an application on Pebble which gave me directions from my smartphone using Google Maps. Which illustrates how the power of the Pebble was the rich amount of apps and watchfaces available for the platform. Fitbit (who acquired the assets of Pebble) got acquired by Google today for 2,1 billion USD, btw.

I figured out that only the top categories of chips has good GPS, eg.: SD835-855.
So I reconsidered my idea and I figured out that I can redesign and use my current phone which has SD845. Basically it is modular too.
The main board is quiet small with everything on it, I have to drop out unnecesary parts like cameras, vibration motor, speakers, and change battery to a smaller one. My phone is rooted so I can configure everything like power consumption. A smaller battery could be enough for a day with continuous GPS recording (in airplane mode).
The biggest challenge would be to find a small display with touch sensor and connect it to the main board. There are 3-3,5" amoled displays for VR but without touch sensitivity.
I can solve the hardware and software changes through my friends, only a small display is necessary…

I’m not convinced capacitive touch works better than physical buttons when sports (such as biking) is concerned. Capacitive touch at least does require a good interface, a large screen, and there is the danger of it getting damaged. (For companies selling such, the chance of it breaking can be good for volume and repairs.) Perhaps something to consider.

This topic was automatically closed 182 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.