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Pal smart strap turns your Pebble Time into a fitness tracker

Engadget Engadget 18/05/2016 Steve Dent
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The Pebble Time smartwatch (and Steel variant) launched with the promise of extended functionality via "smartstraps" connected to the magnetic charging port. So far, however, there are very few bands out there, and the extra functionality is limited to NFC payments, wireless charging and mid-air hand gestures. A company called Powerstrap wants to make something a bit more useful with the Pal, a smartstrap that effectively turns the Pebble Time into a sports tracker.

The Pal's two features are a built in Qualcomm GPS unit and 250mAh battery. The latter ensures the GPS doesn't drain your Pebble Time's battery, and even extends its life by up to seven days (while using the same charger). Thanks to the GPS, you can head out on a run or other activity without your smartphone and it'll track your speed, distance, elevation and route for 24 hours. The info is displayed on the watch while you're working out, and you can transfer it to an iOS or Android smartphone app later to chart your route, tracks improvements and share milestones via social media.

The device is water resistant (but not waterproof), and together with the Pebble Time, weighs 65 grams (2.3 ounces). That's less than most GPS-equipped watches, the company says. It's opening up its software development kit to third parties, so the device could presumably track cycling, golf and other sports too.

Now comes the caveat: Powerstrap needs to crowdfund the Pal, so it's launching it on Kickstarter with an $80,000 goal. To get it in one of six colors, you'll have to pledge at least $79, since the $65 early bird price is already sold out. The good news is that the company started development in April 2015, and is promising a ship date in October 2016. It's also piggybacking on the Pebble Time, which is the best-selling device in Kickstarter history, and has raised nearly half the goal in just a few hours. If you're willing to risk $79, you can order one here.

Kickstarter

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