[CES 2014] 2014 is truly the year of Wearable Technologies (WT). When you see a company like RAZER, which is known for its high-profile gaming devices, enter a market like this, you can tell that the WT train is leaving the station and no-one wants to miss the next big thing. The gizmo pictured above is called Nabu, and this is RAZER’s competitor for both sports bands (Nike Fuel, Jawbone Up+…) and smartwaches (Qualcomm Toq, Galaxy Gear…).The first thing that is striking about the design is that it is remarkably small for something that has text-notification capabilities (screen/light + vibrate), thanks to a small OLED screen. Of course, it’s not going to compete with the Galaxy Gear in terms of display quality and features, but on paper, it beats sports bands that don’t have notification features (no display) and could compete with something like the Qualcomm Toq. Without trying a live one for a couple of days, it’s very hard to tell, but there is a potential here.
When I spoke to RAZER, the company pointed out that in their view, most smart watches are bulky and have a poor user interface (UI) along with a short battery life. Fitness trackers (aka sports bands) are mostly single-function devices but don’t bring much benefits to the user. Nabu is designed to be the best of both worlds: small, multi-day battery life (7-10 days, says RAZER), location-aware, sleep-aware and text-notification capable. And when you see how small the device actually is, this is quite impressive – at least in theory.
In terms of notifications, things look pretty good. We have been using Toq smart watches for some time, and the phone + messages notifications are very handy. Nabu should bring the same functionality, although with less text details, but in a much (much!) smaller form factor.
Nabu also brings cool ideas, like an automatic Facebook friend request when you shake someone’s hand. Something like this was attempted several times with business cards in the past, but if there was a standard for this kind of things, it would be very nice (imagine that, paired with Glass…). It’s not impossible since Nabu is an open platform in the sense that 3rd party companies can write applications for it. Expect to see Twitter, Facebook and other apps that are prone to notifications.
Finally, the best part of Nabu is its $49 target price. Since simpler sports products can sell for many times this price, we would say that this is a very interesting newcomer.