Science fiction literature is full of situations where electronic devices become self aware and begin making their own decisions. Some of us, I suppose, have come to think that it’s ultimately inevitable.
It was 2016, just after Amazon’s Prime Day, and I pulled a black cylinder out of a box: an Amazon Echo, my first smart speaker. Adding in a few Philips Hue bulbs, I got my first taste of the smart home and it felt amazing, like something out of Star Trek. I don’t know that I’d call it amazing any longer.
Not many modern, web-connected devices live on for years after their maker goes out of business and shuts down its servers. Fewer still have not only an active repair and support community, but a forward-looking mission. Rebble is a welcoming, open-source, community-minded effort, with a responsible financial model behind it. It’s hard to believe it exists, and feels like some still-raw chunk of 2013 tech optimism that can’t possibly survive into the future.
Except, it might.
I was a Kickstart supporter for the Pebble Time in 2015. While the Apple Watch is superior in most ways, there was a definite charm to the Pebble’s design, its battery life was incredible and it did what most people want most from a smart watch — notifications — nearly as well as watchOS until some of the improvements in watchOS 6. The idea that there might eventually be a full on Rebble Watch, to continue Pebble’s efforts, excites me.