PineTime Hardware Wishlist

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This page contains a list of things people wish PineTime did differently

Hardware

  • Long pressing the button should power-cycle the watch without any software being involved
  • Other display technology could be explored.
    • E-ink
      • Still images require no power to maintain
    • A transflective LCD
      • Increased readability in bright daylight
    • OLED
      • Self-emissive display (pixels emit their own light)
      • Allows for lower power usage with mostly black screens
      • Allows for low power visual notifications (imagine an always-on small red square in the corner to indicate a notification)
  • Touchscreen with configurable sensitivity
    • Ideal for gloved fingers and water droplet resistance
    • Preferably it should remain capacitive, as a resistive touchscreen would have too many trade-offs.
  • A slightly bigger 256×256 pixel display
    • This resolution is preferable for its binary alignment for low-level simplicity
    • It has the property that its X and Y coordinates are each addressable with a single byte, with no bounds checking
    • Its total number of pixels is a power of 2 (65536), and each pixel is addressable with exactly 2 bytes.
    • The IBNIZ (Ideally Bare Numeric Impression giZmo) virtual machine, designed for minimalist demoscene graphics, has chosen 256×256 for its virtual display specifically for code efficiency.
    • If PineTime also chose 256×256 then it would be a target platform for unclipped IBNIZ demoscene programmes, which would be really fun to play around with on one's wrist!
  • Full screen refresh is very slow
    • A full 16-bit redraw on the display takes at worst 120ms, which is 8Hz
    • Modest optimization is possible by adopting 12-bit color
    • A smooth scrolling/usage/animation experience would be 30Hz minimum, preferably 60hz
    • Display redraw is currently bottlenecked by the nRF52832 maximum SPI clock (8MHz).
    • The nRF528(33/40) has one high speed SPI master which supports 32MHz, still well below the ST7789 maximum
    • Parallel data transfer could be an option, but using more GPIOs (which don't look available)
  • Some sort of scroll wheel would be nice for convenience.
  • Changed GPIO assignment so more functionality is available (i.e. NFC and VSYNC)
  • Wireless charging, or Qi Charging capability
  • Different MCU with more RAM and ROM, higher clock
    • nRF5840 update
      • 32MHz HS SPI, QuadSPI
      • CryptoCell + Secure Key Storage
      • More RAM, a coprocessor
      • The possibility to expose USB through power pins
    • Ox64/BL808
      • Open hardware RISC-V based MCU
      • Significant jump in performance
      • Significant jump in memory and storage, allowing for more features and better UI's
  • Preferably a pre-certified MCU module with a ceramic antenna
  • Version without sensors but maybe bigger battery
  • Pins on the programmer connector to allow UART while developing (currently there is a TX test point on PCB). (Note: There's ARM SemiHosting, ITM and Segger RTT)
  • Connect SDO of ST7889 LCD controller to MCU.
    • Allows MCU to execute READ commands
    • Possibility of leveraging ST7889 RAM to save MCU RAM?
  • LCD must be centered on case. Currently is not and watchfaces seems different when clock is put on the other wrist.
  • A NFC antenna around the case, connected to the NFC pins.
  • Used sensors should be NDA-free and preferably also blob-free for easier development
    • Possibly replace BMA421 accelerometer
      • The BMA421 doesn't have a public datasheet
      • Special attention should be paid to advanced features, such as step counting integration or flick detection.
  • PineTime SoC could support USB or have a FTDI chip with the relevant pins exposed.
    • It could allow flashing a sealed device, just like Arduinos work.
    • Alternatively, an USB-C port could be added that provides these features.
  • A bigger pulldown resistor for the power button
    • 100k still leaks a noticeable amount of power when the button is always on.
  • Ceramic Bluetooth antenna for better signal reception
  • An external RTC circuit
    • Allows the main MCU go to deep-sleep while retaining time.
    • Allows time retention through MCU reset.
  • Ultra low quiescent current PMIC
    • In theory could provide a hard reset capability based on button press
    • Better deep sleep/shipping/storage/off lifetime
      • A nano-power system timer IC could in theory provide a RTC, MOSFET-controlled deep sleep, watchdog timer and button-controlled reset
    • Built-in "fuel gauge" for better estimation of battery capacity
  • Improved haptic or audible feedback
    • E.g. small Piezo buzzer
    • Use case would be for very short beeps (think old-school casio watch) as notification.
    • Of course developers can PWM other frequency to make it sing, but piezos tend to be shrill.
  • A built-in microphone
    • Would allow phone call functionality to be built into the watch.
    • Could potentially allow for speech recognition for text input.
    • Direct access to the external (flash) storage
    • Only a small jump in price