If you’re a child of the 1970s or 1980s, the chances are you spent a lot of time watching television shows in which the hero or heroine wore a wrist watch that also doubled up as a communication device, allowing them to place calls, find the baddies, or in the case of “The Hoff” in Knight Rider, communicate directly with his super-intelligent self-driving car KITT.
Thirty years later at the dawn of the smart watch era, we’re just starting to see watches clever enough to interact with us and the world around us, so it comes to no surprise to us that an open-source advocate and programmer has just pushed an app to the Pebble watch store that lets you control a Tesla Model S with the $150 smart watch.
Enter Erik de Bruijn from the Netherlands and founder of 3D printing business Ultimake. A keen EV advocate and Model S owner, de Bruijn uses open-source solutions wherever they present themselves, and wanted to develop a way of interfacing his Model S with the Pebble smartwatch.
One of Kickstarter’s biggest success stories, the Pebble looks like any other wristwatch, but instead of a conventional digital display combines a 1.26-inch, 144 x 168 pixel black and white e-paper display with a low-powered 120Mhz ARM-based processor, 32MB of RAM, a 3-axis accelerometer and a bluetooth low-energy chip. Unlike other smart watches on the market, it has an incredibly low energy consumption, lasting a week between charges, and pairs with the user’s smartphone to give it access to the Internet and other services.
Using the freely-available Pebble Watch Software Development Kit (SDK) de Bruijn was able to write a fairly simple program in C (you can see the source code here at GitHub) which sends and receives data via his smartphone directly to Tesla’s own telematics servers using the unofficially-documentented Tesla REST API.
The result? A small, free-to-use companion app for the Pebble Smartwatch which replicates all of the features of Tesla’s official iOS and Android OS Model S smartphone apps, including the ability to lock and unlock the doors, honk the horn and flash the lights, start and stop car charging, turn cabin pre-conditioning on or off, request state of charge information and even see how cold it is outside the car.
If you own both a Tesla Model S and a Pebble watch, you can find the humorously named Tesla FTW app (the FTW stands for “For The Win!”) as a free-to-download app on the Pebble App Store, for which you’ll need the latest version of the Pebble operating system (PebbleApp 2.0).
It might not be quite the vision of the future we had back in the 1980s when we thought we’d be ‘talking’ to our cars by now — but we still think it’s pretty cool. Since I own a Pebble watch, I’m now wondering how easy it would be to do the same for the Nissan LEAF.
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