Fun with PineTime Smart Watch

As I wrote before, My smart watch is open source. Awesome!


Let's make this fun — for children in particular — and show how we can bend the device to our will because FOSS means it's truly ours, fully under our control.

This article started from my musing about this topic in the PineTime matrix discussion room.

I'm interested in teaching children about “free software” and having full control of one's own devices. Seems like programming your own digital watch would be an excellent way to make this topic “touchable”. This is an encouragement to any makers and experimenters to do more fun stuff, and get this into the hands of children and technology teachers.

As a programmer I can imagine all sports of technical ways to do so, and I've read about the current state of development (how things like downloadable modules would help) — that side I understand quite well. Where I'm lacking is the social kinds of ideas — what's been tried, who's set up a “watch makers kids club”, etc. Anyone heard of anyone using PineTime or similar projects with children?

What's on my mind is, I am wearing this watch because I want to show people how great is free software and owning control of one's devices. But when they (kids or adults) look, all they see is another watch, they can't see it's programmable and Open. So how can I show them? I half seriously want it to be a bright colour and to flash out the words “MY OWNER PROGRAMMED ME” when I wave my arm around. Or something :–)

I want my PineTime to boldly proclaim “I'm Freedom Software in Freedom Hardware”.

Same for my phone: I want people to see it's different from mainstream and ask me why. I've actually had a go at designing a sticker for my phone. Haven't got it sticky-back printed but have put its image on my lock screen. Hmm, I should print that as a T-shirt :–)


The older I get, the more it bothers me that no-one's aware of the existence of tech where users are in control (~FOSS). The more I feel the need to shout it out... in a shy person's way. Glad to see PineTime got to FOSDEM this year. I wasn't there. I'll watch the recording some time soon. (on | on my Trax PeerTube)

What Could Children Do With It?

For the youngest, say 4yo, it could be drawing your own watch background picture (on any sketching app on a laptop) and get it installed on the watch. Then, if there's any way to cross-compile from a beginner language like Scratch then program or reprogram a simple app like alarm/timer, with plenty of flashing the screen and buzzing.

Then for 8 yo and up, program in some accessible textual language (e.g. Hedy/Python if cross-compilation is possible; I haven't enquired how feasible that is).

'neroburner' says: “There is a micro python based firmware for the PineTime. That could be a great starting point for teaching and trying out stuff.” Thank you for that hint. That's Wasp-OS and has more apps than Infinitime and is easier to customise:

In fact, for any age, getting a bold visual customisation like watch face would probably be the best starting point. (I have read the existing issues about how people would like to make that easier to do technically. That's good stuff but not a precondition: we can work around that by scripting the whole build process.)

But like I said, we can have all these cool ideas software-wise of how we could enable kids to participate, but it's not really going to happen unless we link up with some group of people who do stuff like this. Coding-for-kids clubs, or maker-spaces (hack spaces), or something. (“We” = whoever's interested. I'm not saying any of the existing pine time community should necessarily be interested in this direction, though some might. I'm just asking around to discover what might be out there.)


First kinds of customisation, for someone new to it:

In principle it's possible to customise at a deeper level, such as making different Bluetooth connections (to use an external keyboard, talk directly to another PineTime, ...) but that needs an expert.

App Ideas

Remote control / Ping


Sending messages to one another is great fun! Local first: never mind global tech companies, let's message directly.


Fun with the watch/clock function.

I watched a child play with the alarm setting screen, adjusting the hours and minutes to match the real clock on the wall. The child described it as a digital watch that doesn't tell the time automatically but has to be set manually, like a baby's toy clock. They thought it was fun. So let's make it more fun...

These changes are all meant to be temporary: you can always switch back to the real time.

Colour Images

We have a fairly hi-res colour screen, yet I haven't seen any demo of showing a photo or colour graphic background or anything. (Even the “paint” program seems to only paint white on black. Am I missing something?)


I remember spending hours just tapping away on my calculator-watch with its sixteen tiny mechanical buttons when I was young... and it wasn't even programmable, it just had calculator and timer and a tiny game and that's about it. Oh, but if it had been programmable...!

There are two calculator apps proposed for Infinitime: the more complex Calculator App #375, and Simple calculator #1483. Wasp-OS includes a simple (non-programmable) calculator app.

This article is part of my Open Source Gadgets series.

#fossGadgets #cloudFree #degoogled #awesomeFOSS #openHardware

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