Forget Apple. Make your own smartwatch with TinyScreen

A Kickstarter campaign for a miniscule color screen gives you a shot at building your own smartwatch or teensy gaming console.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
2 min read

TinyScreen as a smartwatch
This TinyScreen has been transformed into a smartwatch. Tiny Circuits

The tech world has seen a trend toward bigger screens. There are increasingly large televisions. There's the iPhone 6 Plus. The aptly named TinyScreen from Tiny Circuits is making a name for itself on Kickstarter by bucking the super-sized trend and instead taking a minimized approach. The Arduino-powered, thumb-size color screen is a hardware hacker's dream, opening up possibilities for DIY smartwatches or making the world's tiniest gaming console.

Even if you're not into programming, the TinyScreen can keep you entertained right out of the box. It comes with default smartwatch, video player and video game apps. A basic kit including a TinyScreen, a TinyDuino processor, a USB TinyShield and a battery pack can be had for a $55 (about £34, AU$63) pledge. The video player version (with microSD card reader) is $65 (about £40, AU$74) and the video game version (complete with itsy-bitsy analog joysticks) is $75 (about £47, AU$86).

Moving up to the smartwatch kit costs an $85 (about £53, AU$97) pledge and includes a Bluetooth module. More advanced tinkerers may want to look into the $200 sensor kit, which includes everything from the smartwatch kit, but adds an accelerometer, ambient light sensor, compass and Wi-Fi. This gives you a lot of room to customize your own gear. Tiny Circuits shows off a version of a homemade smartwatch that takes the TinyScreen kit and incorporates it into a 3D-printed case and band.

Gamers who want to try their thumbs at some truly tiny gaming can tackle Flappy Bird and Asteroids clones, with Tiny Circuits promising many more games to come. The possibilities for the TinyScreen are many and varied. The Kickstarter also suggests making your own smart glasses, creating functioning digital jewelry or setting it up to receive phone notifications.

Putting a TinyScreen device together only requires stacking modules, so you can mix and match features and experiment with new configurations. Your imagination should be off to the races by now. If you back the project, you'll be joining 655 other people who have run up the pledge total up to almost $52,000, handily topping the original $15,000 goal. Looks like there's a market for wee little screens after all.

TinyScreen Kickstarter
TinyScreen can become a console or video player. Tiny Circuits