Smart Buckle wants to help you turn your regular timepiece into a smartwatch

Meet the ambitious startup that's bringing new school to the old school
Smart Buckle smartens up watches

With smartwatches and fitness trackers able to tell the time and do a whole lot more these days, some may be questioning whether it's time to ditch their plain ol' regular watch.

Startup Gooseberry doesn't want you to leave that timepiece behind though. It wants to keep it right there on the wrist but give it some smart superpowers with its Smart Buckle add-on.

Read this: Best smart analogue watch

Gooseberry's co-founders Alexei Levene and Shripal Ghandi told us why they decided to go for a buckle instead of a full wearable and what backers of its Kickstarter project can expect from the $39 Smart Buckle.

"We're all watch lovers, so we've all kind of grown up in an environment where you have an emotional connection to watches. In my case, it was my old man — he was really into watches, having had them passed down from his father and so forth," Levene said.

"And at the same time, all of us working on the Smart Buckle are pretty seasoned product people and technologists, and we recognise there's a gap here for people who want the benefits of sleep tracking and other health features, but also don't want to compromise. Not everyone wants to wear a rubbery fitness tracker at the same time as their traditional watch."

As a result, it's an area Levene believes the company's Smart Buckle can flourish within.

"We think this can be a vanguard for a new wave of wearables — devices that work for you instead of just stacking things full of technology and hoping it'll work for everybody," he explained.

"And I think a couple of things really mark us out in this category. We're a philosophy-driven company, and we're all about rejuvenating your existing products, rather than just buying new stuff all the time and then putting it in a draw."

But, of course, while it appears to be one of the few devices taking advantage of the buckle to bring the smartwatch and traditional watch worlds together, it's crucial to consider just what exactly the Smart Buckle does when fitted onto your traditional watch.

Smart Buckle wants to help you turn your regular timepiece into a smartwatch

Ghandi indicated that the strength of the device lies in its algorithms, which, with the help of a 3-axis gyroscope, angular velocity and motion sensors, allows it to track steps, pace, distance and calories burned.

There's also no need to take the buckle off when you sleep, providing it's within the week-long charge window, as it's able to detect light movements, heavy bed turns, wakeful state and deep sleep. This data is then thrown into the companion app, which provides you with patterns and trends on a daily, weekly and monthly basis for insights into overall sleep quality. Users also have the option to sync things up with Apple Health and Google Fit.

Another important aspect to consider is just how encompassing the buckle can be across so many watches. Levene indicated that although the initial 20mm version of the device is on the way through the project, demand could see the company release sizes for smaller and bigger straps, as well as more colours besides the standard brushes steel. Currently, the initial iteration will fit roughly 500 watch brands, the pair confirmed.

Crowdfund this?

Smart Buckle wants to help you turn your regular timepiece into a smartwatch

As with all crowdfunding projects, the question here is whether you fancy dipping into your pocket and backing it.

Besides the overall premise of adding smarts to your regular timepiece, there's a couple of things that make this a strong project. The two co-founders both confirmed there's a serious aim to ship within 45 days of the campaign completion, with the goal of $25,000 currently looking within reach.

Levene also indicated that the iOS application is ready for launch alongside the device (with the Android version nearing completion), while several stretch goals and plans for the future are being explored by the pair.

The price is paramount here, too, with $39 presenting backers with a reasonably cheap way to get involved with the accessory, despite its unhealthy jump to $99 for the eventual retail price.

And while we can't speak to the accuracy of any of the smart features housed inside the buckle, the surface would appear to show a strong accessory for those not ready to completely switch over to a smartwatch.


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