Wearable tech often flirts with fashion. How utilitarian can a device be and still remain fashion forward? I am always conscious about what I am wearing and how it adds to my personal style: headsets, iPhone, you name it, I think about how it looks as much as what it does. I have pondered adding another piece of technology to my wardrobe lately… I looked at an Apple Watch, then a Fitbit, and in my quest, came across a Montreal based company that is creating a piece of wearable tech that is not only functional, but looks really cool. Meet The Nex Band: a hackable smart bracelet that not only looks great, but has an infinite number of uses.
When I discovered The Nex Band online, I quickly reached out to their parent company Mighty Cast Inc. and was graciously invited to come check out the device at their studio. Since the band is still in development (set for a Summer 2016 launch), Mighty Cast Inc. CEO Adam Adelman wanted me to get a hands on with the band to see the potential of their wearable device. Adam walked me through the many different applications of The Nex Band and gave me some insight on where they will be going next with development.
The first thing you notice right off the bat when you see The Nex Band is the array of 5 modules that make up the light-up surface of the band. Each module contains a multi colored LED that can be programmed to illuminate in a sequence decided by the wearer. Through The Nex Band mobile app, you can program the lights to animate depending on a multitude of alerts (called hacks), such as a text message, a phone call, an email, a tweet, etc. The Nex Band also vibrates, which can also be adjusted to your preferences. As Adam walked me through all these different applications of the lights, I was already pondering how this could be applied to Twitch, Discord and the multitude of other gaming related apps that I use on a daily basis.
The modules that make up The Nex Band are as multifunctional as the LED lights that power them. They can work as buttons to take photos on your phone, control smart home appliances and send an S.O.S message. Adam showed me how he used the buttons to control the music on his iPhone: stopping and starting the song, changing the volume and skipping tracks. He mentioned that they are working on an SDK that will allow other smart object developers to create links to The Nex Band so that their wearable is compatible with future devices hitting the market and to unlock new applications.
Have I mentioned that the modules are useful? They are also removable and interchangeable! Adam took one of the modules off the bracelet and described how you can use these babies to transfer data between two bands. Imagine having a bunch of photos that you want to share with your friend, load those bad boys to a module, take it off your band and hand it to a friend. When they connect it to their watch and the photos are now theirs to admire.
Of course, being the co-founder of Girls on Games, I was curious to find out how The Nex Band could be used in a gaming scenario. Adam launched an iPhone demo game created by his team and demonstrated how he could unlock mech warriors depending on which module he attached to the band. He described the concept as something similar to Disney Infinity or the Nintendo Amiibo where a physical object can unlock characters or ingame upgrades. As this was a demo game, he was quick to mention that they are in talks with some gaming companies who have The Nex Band in hand to try and build unique experiences with it.
And now back to the crux of the operation: how cool does the Nex Band look? The band comes in two colors, white and black, and both are made out of a smooth plastic that is velvety to the touch on the strap while glossy on the modules. For the band being a 1.0 version (or really 0.9 since it’s in Beta) it has all the appearances of being a solid, durable object (it’s also water resistant) that I could easily add to my daily wardrobe. Adam also gave me a sneak peek look at some of the alternate module designs that they were working on (OMG bling!) and there is definitely going to be some really awesome physical customization that you will be able to do with the band.
The Nex Band Thoughts
When I left the Mighty Cast Inc. offices, I was on a bit of a high thinking about how cool a smart object could look yet remain extremely functional. No two Nex Bands would be the same, with the user being able to personalize them to their connected lifestyle. I am excited to get my hands on one and take it for the real testing ground… my internet infused life.
For those interested by The Nex Band, the team at Mighty Cast Inc. have given us a code for $10 off your pre-order. Use the code girlsongames at checkout for your discount. Code is valid until May 8th, 2016.