Have you ever wished your smartwatch was more of a computer and less of a fashion item? Ever felt the need to tap keys that are surely too small for normal human fingers? The dream of the 1980s was a watch-sized computer, and in the 21st century we are gifted with that and more. Chinese company Lilygo, whose products we featured earlier, evokes 1980s aesthetics with this tiny Bluetooth keyboard, as CNX Software discovered.
It’s cute, but the actual benefit you can get from it is questionable. And unfortunately, you need a specific smartwatch, so this time you can’t turn your Apple Watch into a productivity machine. The Watch-Keyboard-C3, as it’s called for short, connects to an ESP-32 C3 microcontroller and a LilyGo T watch. The clock is included in the keyboard pack if you don’t have one. There is also an optional audio module with microphone and speaker.
The mini keyboard connects via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi 4 for all your wireless networking needs, and a USB-C port for power and data. There’s also a three-axis accelerometer on board, which was actually designed to count steps, but with the right code could be used as an input system for gesture control. The tiny computer can be programmed using Arduino tools; There is no desktop OS on this one. There is also sample code on GitHub in two repositories, but not much else in terms of documentation or tools.
|ESP-32 C3||RP2040 (Raspberry Pi Pico)|
|controller||C3 RISC-V||Cortex-M0+ (32-bit) dual-core arm|
|speed||up to 240MHz||up to 133MHz|
|GPIO||30 needles||26 digital I/O|
|interfaces||2x SPI, 2x I2C, 2x UART||2x I2C, 2x I2S, 1x IR, 4x SPI, 3x UART, Bluetooth, WiFi (W version)|
Announced in November 2020, the ESP32-C3 is part of the larger ESP32 line of boards that were introduced back in 2016. The ESP32 microcontrollers have become popular thanks to their low cost, plentiful supply, and ease of use. The many models of ESP32 are available in different configurations. Some offer single or dual core CPUs with speeds up to 240MHz and up to 512KB of SRAM. With faster CPU speeds and more RAM than a Raspberry Pi Pico W, ESP32 are a solid choice for the established manufacturer.
The Keyboard-C3 is available now from AliExpress (opens in new tab) for just under $50 if you want the full package and don’t already have a compatible smartwatch.