It seems like every year at CES there’s at least one category that everyone and their mother want to get in on, and at CES 2014 that category appears to be “wearable” tech. Despite the fact that wearable tech, or “wearables” isn’t really new, (Nike FuelBand, Jawbone Up, etc.) there have been many new entries in this category.
The trouble with wearable tech so far has been that it has fallen into one of two categories: Fitness or Cool-but-not-useful-in-real-life. The Nike FuelBand is great if you just want to track your movement and tell the time. The Jawbone Up takes the idea of the FuelBand a step or two further and gives you features like setting an alarm. The original Pebble Watch is cool (my brother owns one), but it has a pretty limited set of features. The Samsung Galaxy Gear is pretty, but also light on functionality.
If you’re not familiar with Razer, then shame on you. The gaming accessories company make some of the best keyboards, mice, and computers out there. I currently have one of their keyboards (the Arctosa) and it’s my favorite gaming keyboard to date. After years of making great hardware, Razer has decided to try getting into more mainstream tech by designing the Nabu.
If you’ve ever seen the Nike FuelBand, then you already have a pretty good idea of what the Nabu looks like. The similarities between the two wristbands goes much deeper than the aesthetics, though. The Razer Nabu is capable of (most) all of the same types of fitness monitoring as that the FuelBand does, but it also pairs with your iPhone or Android phone to deliver notifications. The Nabu features two screens instead of one, which sounds odd, but it looks like it’s going to be pretty cool. One of the two screens is much smaller than the other, and is meant to sit on the top, or outside, of your wrist. Then, when you get a notification the small screen shows you what type of notification, like a phone icon when you have a phone call coming in, and if you look at the larger display that sits on the inside of your wrist you will see the caller ID of who’s calling. Not wanting to answer the call? Just shake your wrist and it will dismiss the call.
The Nabu is also very social. During CES, Razer showed off getting notifications from Twitter and being able to see who mentioned you and the first couple of lines of the tweet. Other social networks may follow soon. You can also exchange information with someone who also has a Nabu by simply shaking hands. Of course, this is reliant on you meeting someone else who is wearing one, and you’d better hope that neither of you are wearing it on your left wrist…
Razer says that it will also work with it’s gaming communications software Razer Comms, but hasn’t said how exactly. I’m assuming that if someone says something in chat it’ll show up on your Nabu. Which is dead useful for staying connected during those times when you’re relieving yourself, or fighting Swamp-Ass.
Razer reports that they are selling dev kits for $49, and that the selling price will be a little more. I’m curious to see how much more, since the Jawbone Up sells for $129 and the Nike FuelBand sells for $149. If Razer could hit the market with a $79 or $99 price point, it would make it a lot harder to resist, especially for those of us who could stand to lose (more than) a few pounds.