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Movement: The Community Firmware for Sensor Watch

Movement is an application that manages the display of different screens of content on the watch. These screens are called watch faces. Watch faces can be passive displays of information like a clock or a calendar, or they can be fully interactive user interfaces like the Preferences face, which allows the user to customize Movement’s behavior.

Movement handles the instantiation of your watch face and manages transitions between screens. It also provides a low-power sleep mode, triggered after a period of inactivity, to preserve the watch battery.

Several faces are provided that offer baseline functionality like a clock, a settings screen and an interface for setting the time. You can change and reorder the watch faces that Movement displays by editing movement_config.h, and you can write your own watch face using the guidance in this chapter.

1 - Building Sensor Watch Firmware

Install the cross-compiling toolchain on Linux

  • Debian/Ubuntu: apt install gcc-arm-none-eabi libnewlib-arm-none-eabi

  • Archlinux: pacman -S arm-none-eabi-gcc arm-none-eabi-newlib

Other Linux:

  • Download the GNU ARM Embedded Toolchain for 64-bit Linux
  • Extract it: tar xjf gcc-arm-none-eabi-10.3-2021.10-x86_64-linux.tar.bz2
  • Add it to your PATH: export PATH="$PATH:/path/to/extracted/gcc-arm-none-eabi-10.3-2021.10/bin"

Note: if you want, you can add the above PATH export to your shell’s startup script to make it persist between shell invocations

Install the cross-compiling toolchain on MacOS

Note: if you want, you can add the above PATH export to your shell’s startup script to make it persist between shell invocations

Compile firmware

  • From within the repo:
  • cd movement/make
  • make COLOR=RED (for Sensor Watch Lite boards), or for classic green boards, just make

The built firmware will be at build/watch.uf2. You can now flash this firmware to your watch.

“I just want to pick my own set of watchfaces”

The list of included watchfaces can be found in the watch_faces array in movement/movement_config.h. Simply add, remove, and/or rearrange faces in this list to your liking and re-compile/re-flash your firmware.

You can also use the unofficial online firmware builder to build both the watch firmware and the emulator.

2 - Building Firmware for the Sensor Watch Emulator


3 - Designing a New Watch Face for Movement

In this document, we’re going to describe designing a single watch face for Movement, the community firmware for Sensor Watch. It’s a simple watch face that simply blinks an LED, and provides some options for blink speed and color.

We’ll start by generating a header and an implementation for our blink watch face. First, open a terminal and navigate to the movement/template directory: cd movement/template/.

You can create a watch face in any of the major categories of watch face that Movement offers:

  • clock faces tend to display the time, whether in a standard time system like a world clock or an alternative system like decimal time. The standard clock, Mars time and beat time all fit in this category.
  • complication faces tend to display some non-time information, but don’t generally require any data other than user input or the time. Sunrise, TOTP generation and dice rolling all fit into this category.
  • sensor faces are a lot like complication faces, but tend to display information from sensors attached to the watch. Temperature display, accelerometer display and battery voltage fit in this category.
  • settings faces are watch faces that involve configuring the watch.
  • demo faces are faces that involve demonstrating or testing functionality.

Once you know the category of watch face you’re building — blink is pretty clearly a complication — create the watch face files with the command python3 complication blink in a terminal window. That generates two files in the watch-faces/complication folder, called blink_face.h and blink_face.c. It also adds the watch face to both Movement’s Makefile and its include files.

Take a look at blink_face.h. Watch faces in Movement are just plain old C, and we’ll implement our blink watch face in the four functions that script has generated for us:

  • blink_face_setup is called when the watch boots, and when waking from deep sleep.
  • blink_face_activate is called just before our watch face comes on screen.
  • blink_face_loop is called every time the watch ticks, which is normally once a second, but watch faces can request something faster.
  • And blink_face_resign is called just before our watch face goes off screen.

The script also generates a structure to hold the state of our watch face. We’ll want to add some stuff: a boolean to keep track of whether the LED should be actively blinking — an on/off switch, if you will — as well as the speed and the color. It looks something like this:

typedef struct {
    bool active;
    bool fast;
    uint8_t color;
} blink_state_t;

Next, we’ll look to our implementation file, blink_face.c, and implement those four functions. Our setup function is simple: when the watch boots, Movement will call this function with a spot for us to stash a pointer to our watch face state. We’ll just allocate some memory for that purpose, and zero it out:

void blink_face_setup(movement_settings_t *settings, uint8_t watch_face_index, void ** context_ptr) {
    if (*context_ptr == NULL) {
        *context_ptr = malloc(sizeof(blink_state_t));
        memset(*context_ptr, 0, sizeof(blink_state_t));

Next, we’ll implement our activate function. When the wearer activates our watch face, we’ll want to set up any initial state that makes sense when arriving at the watch face. The temperature log watch face, for example, moves to the most recently logged entry. For our blink face, we make sure to set the active property of our state to false so the light doesn’t start blinking right away. (Note that we get a void pointer here, which we cast to our blink_state_t type. This “context” pointer may look confusing, but it’s just Movement giving us back the same pointer that we malloc‘ed in setup above.)

void blink_face_activate(movement_settings_t *settings, void *context) {
    blink_state_t *state = (blink_state_t *)context;
    state->active = false;

Before we declare our loop function, I’m going to add a little helper function to update the LCD. This just takes the state of our watch face, and translates it to letters on the LCD. This function formats a ten-character string that looks something like this: “BL F Green”. The wearer can read that as “Blink face, fast blink, green LED”.

static void _blink_face_update_lcd(blink_state_t *state) {
    char buf[11];
    const char colors[][7] = {" red  ", " Green", " Yello"};
    sprintf(buf, "BL %c%s", state->fast ? 'F' : 'S', colors[state->color]);
    watch_display_string(buf, 0);

The watch_display_string function then displays it in the ten positions available on the watch:

Rendering: an L-shaped flex PCB labeled “Temperature+GPIO Sensor Board”

Almost there! Next, we write our loop. This is where the action happens!

bool blink_face_loop(movement_event_t event, movement_settings_t *settings, void *context) {
    blink_state_t *state = (blink_state_t *)context;

    switch (event.event_type) {
        // TODO: handle events!

    return true;

The core of this function is just a big switch statement that handles events. Movement abstracts away all of the button and timer interrupts, and instead gives our watch simple events that correspond to things like button presses or ticks. All we have to do is implement the cases. For example, we get an event when the watch face is first activated. We can use that to update the LCD for the first time:


Next, let’s respond to a button press. When the wearer presses the Mode button, we’ll want to move to the next watch face:


Simple enough! Now we need a way to change the color. We’ll assign that function to the Light button: when the wearer presses that button, assuming the LED isn’t already blinking, we’ll move to the next color and update the display:

    if (!state->active) {
        state->color = (state->color + 1) % 3;

We’ll also need a way to start and stop the blinking. We’ll use the Alarm button for that. When the wearer presses that button, we want to do one of two things. If the blinking isn’t active, we set it to active, clear the display, and request a frequency to match the selected speed. If on the other hand the blinking is active, we’ll stop it and go back to displaying our state.

    if (!state->active) {
        state->active = true;
        movement_request_tick_frequency(state->fast ? 8 : 2);            
    } else {
        state->active = false;

Of course, we also need to give the wearer a way to select the speed. But we’re out of buttons! Not to worry, there’s another event for that. Movement can detect a “long press” of a button, which is when the wearer holds the button for more than a half second. We’ll make a long press on the Alarm button change the speed (again, assuming the LED isn’t blinking):

    if (!state->active) {
        state->fast = !state->fast;

Finally, we need to blink the light! We’ll use the tick event for that. Movement issues this event every time the clock ticks. Normally that’s once a second, but watch faces can request a faster tick, like we did above when setting the blinking state to active. We’ll use this tick function to toggle the LED off on even numbered ticks, and on odd numbered ticks:

    if (state->active) {
        if (event.subsecond % 2 == 0) watch_set_led_off();
        else if (state->color == 0) watch_set_led_red();
        else if (state->color == 1) watch_set_led_green();
        else watch_set_led_yellow();

That’s it for our loop! There’s only one function left, and it’s a short one. Our resign function is responsible for any last-minute cleanup before relinquishing control to the next watch face. In our case, it’s possible the wearer might press “Mode” while the LED was on, so we need to make sure to turn it off here, just in case:

void blink_face_resign(movement_settings_t *settings, void *context) {

With that, we’ve implemented a whole watch face in just a few dozen lines of code! All that’s left is opening up movement_config.h and adding it to the list of selected watch faces:

const watch_face_t watch_faces[] = {
    blink_face, // that's us!