Sony Turns Its Lackluster SmartWatch Into A Developer Playground

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Back during the heady days of 2012, before the Pebble raised a crazy amount of money on Kickstarter, Sony quietly released an Android-compatible smartwatch of its own. By most accounts it wasn’t very good, but that doesn’t mean that Sony has relegated it to the trash pile.

No, with hindsight being what it is, Sony is looking to breathe some new life into that curious little gadget with some help from the developer community. The company has kicked off what it calls the Open SmartWatch program to get developers cooking up custom firmwares for the thing.

In case you haven’t been keeping tabs on the wearable gadgetry space, Sony launched the SmartWatch in question last year to mixed reviews. The concept is a very familiar one — the watch syncs to an Android-powered smartphone and displays messages and notifications, as well as runs a slew of bespoke SmartWatch apps. Thanks to its Android underpinnings, you could easily think of it as a more robust version of the Pebble or any of the copycats that have sprung up in its wake.

As iffy as Sony’s second-gen SmartWatch was, most of the issues seemed to be rooted in its software (and to its credit, Sony keeps pushing out patches and updates for the thing). Sony’s is one of the prettier smartwatches out there, and the spec list has just enough oomph to make it an attractive choice for some frenzied late night tinkering. By stripping out Sony’s work and starting fresh, hackers are largely left with a blank slate, and the company is committed to highlighting some of the most novel firmware once they start popping up.

To help kick this whole thing off, Sony has also tapped Arduino to hold a hackathon in Malmo, Sweden, to get antsy developers more familiar with the SmartWatch and what it’s capable of. There is, as always, a caveat: you may be breaking new ground with a device that most people haven’t given a second thought to, but you’ll be giving up access to the nearly 200 or so compatible applications floating around in the Google Play store.