Sony opens up SmartWatch platform to third-party firmware

Sony(s sne)’s second stab at the SmartWatch concept is either a vast improvement over the first or a crashing failure, depend on who you’re listening to. Either way, the Android(s goog) peripheral has hardly set the world on fire – but Sony clearly thinks a lot more goodness can be wrung out of its wristborne platform.

And to achieve that, the company is opening it up. Developers could obviously already write apps for the SmartWatch using Sony’s SDK, but now they can write their own alternative firmware and flash it to the device. It’s called the Open SmartWatch Project and, according to Sony, it will make it possible to “create new experimental use cases and innovations” around the SmartWatch hardware.

It should go without saying that those flashing their watches do so at their own risk and may find their warranty voided. There is a Sony hacker guide for the project, full of reference information.

Sony is kicking off the project with a SmartWatch Arduino hackathon this coming Saturday in Malmö, Sweden — the idea there is have Arduino firmware run on the SmartWatch.

The creation of the Open SmartWatch Project suggests Sony may have found its own user experience efforts lacking, but overall it’s a good thing. It gives developers a relatively affordable (currently around $95) and attractive piece of hardware to play around with and create new smart watch ideas on, and it should feed ideas back to Sony in case the company decides to take a third crack at the concept.