Wearables Week: MetaWear hopes to make wearable tech home-made

Got an idea for a smart T-shirt or some humidity-regulating pants? MetaWear claims you'll be able to create your own wearable gadget in 30 minutes with its tiny development kit
Wearables Week: MetaWear hopes to make wearable tech home-made

If you're the sort of geek who's handy with a soldering iron and likes to tinker with the likes of Arduino or Raspberry Pi, here's a new project to sink your teeth into: build your own wearable devices, using Mbientlab's minuscule MetaWear board.

MetaWear is an ARM-powered brain the size of a postage stamp and it's built to communicate with Android or iOS using low-energy Bluetooth, so it'll fit neatly into that SmartTie you're building.

not quite ready to wear

Wearables Week: MetaWear hopes to make wearable tech home-madeWearables Week: Me

MetaWear's claim that you'll be able to turn its thumbnail-sized gadget-brain into a wearable device in 30 minutes is clearly only true if you know what you're doing: you'll need some fairly in-depth programming knowledge, not to mention a plan for something to make.

However, if you're prepared to put in the effort, this is a cheap and potentially very effective piece of kit. With a scrap of memory (256K storage, 8K RAM) and a low-power ARM chip, it's not a fully-functioning computer like Intel's almost-as-tiny Edison platform, but it has enough power to send notifications from sensors to your phone, or to the included buzzer and vibrating motor.

With a similarly Lilliputian battery also included, it is entirely wire-free (although it's chargeable via microUSB), and it even has a little button on the board for one-click control.

weary interesting

Building your own gadget with MetaWear will only be straightforward if you already have a certain amount of technical expertise, or are prepared to do some learnin'. But for a small investment (the basic pack costs US$20), it's worth a go for interested makers.

There's a free demo app to get you started along with a bunch of resources on GitHub, and if your project turns out to be amazing, MetaWear also has the advantage of being tested and certified, so you could in theory start selling gadgets you've made using the platform.

Will the next big Kickstarter success story be MetaWear-based? It might well be, but for the time being the platform itself is currently seeking crowdfunding. If you want an early start on your fellow inventors, you can preorder a kit on the MetaWear Kickstarter page.