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1 T1 Tact Watch ($94.99)

Software Engineer and hacker Mattia Dal Ben has created a way to unlock his Tesla Model 3– using a $20 watch. A Casio smartwatch was turned into Tesla car key by Dal Ben who found that the Tesla chip card was inconveniently faulty. “This usually happens in the worst of circumstances,” he writes in his project description. “(Water is pouring from the sky? Well I won’t open for you sorry…). Something hacky was needed…,” he writes. Inspired hacker Dacroneous, Mattia Dal Ben created his own antenna using a $20 F-91W Casio watch. He also used an NFC (Near Field Communication) card and some copper wire. The design is so simple, you’d question whether it could actually work. But now, his smartwatch can open car doors, and according to him, it turned out pretty cool: “The watch is almost as comfortable to wear as before. “Almost” is the key word. It scratches a little on the side where the layers of the 3D print join near the screws. I’ll need to think of a better design or change the medium (a resin cast maybe? Transparent would be a lot cool).”

Hacking a $20 Watch

Dal Ben simply removed the back plate from the watch, 3D-printed a new one with a routed slot for the wire, and attached it to the NFC chip at the center. He corrected the frequency on the antenna and uploaded an applet onto the J3A040-CL Java card. Then he screwed the plate back on the watch and voila– instant remote control access to his car. He describes the process on his website: “The main inspiration for this project came from N-O-D-E and his Data Runner watch. After seeing it I decided I wanted to open my car using my watch. Researching the project I came across the Gauss-Key-Card project and decided to follow Darconeous’ steps by making my own matched antenna for a J3A040-CL card from the Smartcard Focus. “I didn’t want to use an official Tesla card for this because the phone call to request a duplicate, if things went south, would have been quite awkward. I didn’t want to use the PCB antenna from the Data Runner watch either, because the J3A040-CL antenna matching could be way off, compromising usability. So, custom hand-crafted antenna it is,” he writes.  The hack was a fun project by a techie-engineer, but Dal Ben may be onto something. A recent FCC filing dated April 2nd, 2020 describes XPLORA Technologies, a Norwegian smartwatch maker, partnering with Tesla Motors, Inc for a special project.

A Tesla Smartwatch?

According to a new filing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Tesla is involved in a new project for a smartwatch. Tesla Motors, Inc is mentioned in the official filing by Xplora Technologies based in Norway. Xplora creates smartwatches primarily for children, leaving many to wonder to what extent Tesla will be involved. However, Tesla currently has a section on its website dedicated to kids accessories.  On their online store, Tesla has a series of products made especially for kids. These include the classic Tesla branding shirts with the logo, as well as onesies for babies and infants. If you think your son or daughter is the coolest kid on the block, tesla also offers a Kid’s Corp Jacket for $85. And for only $600, your child can ride around in a plastic, battery powered Tesla Model S (kid sized, of course).

New Possibilities for Smartwatches

Tesla Motors, Inc isn’t the only company working on making a smartwatch that can open car doors. Tactical watch maker T1 just released a new Smart Fit Band that largely competes with most smartwatches on the market. This budget watch may soon have the same capabilities Tesla is hoping for their watch, however there have yet to be any tests.  While a hacker can take a cheap watch and make it do extraordinary things, some watches already come equipped with everything you need. The Smart Fit Band connects seamlessly with many iOS apps to track and store exercise data.  An internal GPS also makes tracking where you are incredibly easy. It’s not so crazy to imagine this watch could soon be opening doors through an integrated antenna, such as the one we’ve seen.

Constantly Improving Technology

The Smart Fit Band is an example of a modern fitness band that does it all. With integrated heart rate and oxygen monitors, a world-class pedometer, and iOS and android capabilities, this may be the future of smartwatches.  The T1 SFB clearly demonstrates what Mattia Dal Ben showed us with his project: a functional watch doesn’t need to be expensive. In fact, his watch only cost him $20, but didn’t have all the functionality of the SFB. However, it’s always important as a designer to be aware of your faults. Dal Ben describes the one fatal flaw to his perfect solution, saying: “I don’t think the watch is water-resistant anymore.”