MicroPython Smartwatch

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2024-07-08 04:30:05

While browsing Hacker News one day, I came across this post. It shows an intense segment of getting MicroPython running on a $3 smartwatch. I was not interested in so much work. But maybe you are. Either way, it got me thinking about MicroPython and tiny portal computing environments.

When I worked at Peloton, we once did a Black Girls Code event where we gave everyone a BBC microbit to tinker with. The board has 25 LEDs wired on and this acts as the primary display. In order to program the board, they wanted an easy to use and easy to learn language. Lucky for them, in 2013, Damien George had a successful Kickstarter campaign where he developed a language called MicroPython that would run on a wide array of microcontrollers. The platform was ported to the microbit and used as the primary development tool for the board. I was enamored by the ubiquity of Python in so many platforms and systems combined with it's simplicity and forgiving nature for rapid prototyping and design.

So, the downsides of these microcontrollers is that they aren't packaged into something you can easily use. Maybe some have a 2 or 4 line LCD, but in general, they become large and clunky when you add a battery and a screen to the already-cumbersome boards. What if you just want a decent environment ready to go? Something that will last a long time on a charge and has a full packaging system. My Apple watch is a fairly powerful computer, even without the benefit of being tethered to a phone. But an Apple watch is expensive, hundreds of dollars generally speaking, and the barrier to entry is rather high. I wrote some watchOS apps in my past, and even with SwiftUI today, I find it to be rather difficult and unintuitive. It would be nice if you could just run whatever you wanted, but Apple's walled garden makes that impossible.

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