Pebble Smartwatch Founder Debuts a Distraction-Free “Phone”

An interesting alternative to flip phones.

A photo of the Beepberry on a black background.

Pebble was a groundbreaking wearable that set the stage for modern smartwatches. Now, the founder of Pebble, Eric Migicovsky, is sharing a new project called BeepBerry. It’s a distraction-free (and endlessly hackable) handheld that lets you send and receive messages without your smartphone.

But the BeepBerry is a bit different from a “dumb phone.” It doesn’t use a SIM card and instead relies on Beepera multi-platform messaging service. Beeper can send and receive messages from several platforms, including iMessage, Google Messages, WhatsApp, and Instagram—the idea is that you put your smartphone away and use BeepBerry to keep up with friends and family.

It’s a pretty solid idea. Every month, we see stories about people who’ve abandoned their smartphone (or occasionally put away their smartphone) to use a distraction-free flip phone. But your average flip phone can’t connect with all of your messaging apps. And, at the very least, moving your SIM card between a smartphone and flip phone can lead to some problems with iMessage or Android’s RCS protocol.

In terms of hardware, BeepBerry is a smorgasbord of seemingly-random parts, including an old BlackBerry Classic keyboard, a 400 x 240 Sharp Memory LCD display (basically an LCD with e-paper characteristics), and a Raspberry Pi Zero W. As Eric Migicovsky explains, it’s a device for “hackers.” It requires some technical knowledge, and it can perform whatever functions you’re willing to program (though the open-source Beeper setup is obviously the main idea).

Eric Migicovsky introduced the BeepBerry on Twitter and in a blog post. He’s also selling BeepBerry kits for $99 (or just $79 if you don’t need the Raspberry Pi). But this is not a finished product. It’s really just a devkit, and if you aren’t comfortable loading firmware on a Raspberry Pi or tinkering with small (exposed) electronics, you should wait for something more polished.

Source: Beeper Blog via Android Authority

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