This strap could let you pay the bill with your Pebble smartwatch
Fit Pay is raising funds on Kickstarter for an ambitious idea: a special strap for a Pebble Time smartwatch that adds Apple Pay-like functionality.
Sean HollisterSenior Editor / Reviews
When his parents denied him a Super NES, he got mad. When they traded a prize Sega Genesis for a 2400 baud modem, he got even. Years of Internet shareware, eBay'd possessions and video game testing jobs after that, he joined Engadget. He helped found The Verge, and later served as Gizmodo's reviews editor. When he's not madly testing laptops, apps, virtual reality experiences, and whatever new gadget will supposedly change the world, he likes to kick back with some games, a good Nerf blaster, and a bottle of Tejava.
Every Pebble Time smartwatch has a hidden feature -- you can get more functionality by connecting it to a "smart strap." Just imagine extending the battery life of your Pebble with a battery-packed watch strap or using an NFC (near-field communication) chip to pay for groceries with a wave of your wrist.
If a company called Fit Pay has its way, you won't need to imagine for long -- this month, it's raising funds on Kickstarter to make that wave-to-pay scenario a reality. It's called the Pagaré, and it aims be one of the very first smart straps for the Pebble smartwatch.
For an estimated retail price of $89, the Pagaré sounds like a pretty excellent idea. You simply snap it onto the back of any Pebble Time, Pebble Time Steel or Pebble Time Round smartwatch, load up your credit cards and then wave your wrist in front of any contactless credit card reader. According to Fit Pay, the device uses the same networks and technologies as Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay to keep your data safe.
To avoid theft, there's also a sensor in the band to tell when you remove the watch from your wrist, which disables payments until you put it on again and enter your 4-digit PIN. Oh, and this is pretty neat: there's a USB port built right into the end of the strap so you can charge your watch without removing the Pagaré accessory. Before you ask, the company tells us that the Pagaré has an "almost negligible" impact on the Pebble's battery life.
There are a few things you should consider, though. Not only is Pagaré a Kickstarter project -- meaning you're funding the company, not paying for a guaranteed product -- but Fit Pay is tackling a more ambitious task than you might realize.
To succeed as promised, Fit Pay will have to build a different version of the product for each variant of the Pebble Time while working with countless banks, credit card vendors and payment processing companies to make sure your cards are supported. To give you some context, even Google and Samsung don't work with my personal credit cards yet.
And it'll have to fill the first set of orders by July, despite the fact that the company has only recently finished its prototypes -- and has never actually bought anything from a real store using the technology.
Fit Pay tells us it believes it can support a similar number of banks and cards as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay by launch. It also says it's proven the technology using test terminals from the credit card companies. More promisingly, it's also got the blessing of Pebble founder Eric Migicovsky, which is a pretty good sign.
I hope the Pagaré will succeed -- but I'll want to see it in action before I lay down my money.