Wearable technology is becoming more popular, and companies are starting to explore different ways to encourage us to strap their products onto our bodies. The latest to try something different is Mighty Cast, a startup from Montreal, and its product is the Nex Band. Rather than yet another fitness tracker, the Nex Band has more in common with Google’s Project Ara than the Nike FuelBand or a FitBit.
The thick, brightly colored wrist band is designed to be modular. Attaching “Mods” adds functionality to it, including gesture recognition and fitness tracking, almost like a high-tech equivalent of a charm bracelet. It’s not just the familiar features Mighty Cast wants to add either. It also talks about Mods that will interact with mobile games, adding new characters or missions.
All these are extras, and the plan is to offer the band for sale with a single Mod, which would alert the wearer of an incoming call, email, or SMS. Inside the band is a Bluetooth radio, the hardware for a vibration alert, and a battery. The Nex Band is designed to interact with a smartphone app, and in a demonstration to the MIT Technology Review, a Mod attached to the bracelet altered the graphics in a game from 2D to 3D, complete with a congratulatory message.
Mighty Cast is aiming the Nex Band at young tech fans, and hopes to entice them with fun social features like sending private messages to friends using a string of LEDs. Each band will support five different Mods, and each one has its own identification number.
To get youths especially addicted, you can trade, buy, and collect Mods with other Nex users. You don’t have to Catch ‘Em All like Pokemon, but collecting more will give you “higher status in the Nexwork.” They’ll cost $10, and the idea is to share them with your friends, who will share it with their friends, and so on, and so on. Each time a Mod is attached to the band, the app will show its history and other information about its previous owners.
Customizing Mods this way will be performed through a dedicated Nex app, where a personalized greeting and other data can be created. Beyond this, Mighty Cast talks about “legendary” Mods, such as those with gold plating and other limited editions. Pitched correctly, the collectable side of the Nex Band could be the key to its success.
At the moment, the Nex Band isn’t ready for sale, but it can be pre-ordered through Mighty Cast’s website, and it’s expected to ship towards the end of the year. It’s compatible with iOS and Android, and if you do decide to grab one now, you’ll pay $50, half of the expected final cost.