There is so much coming down the wearables pipeline, it’s tough to guess what is worth the time. This one flew just below our radar for 2016.
The Next Band not only survived its Indiegogo campaign, the creators of Nex have shipped and continue to ship their modular band to ambitious users. They even won an innovation award this past January.
Don’t feel bad if you’re still at a loss. You’re not alone, but that’s about to change.
In a nutshell, Nex Band is an open source wearable technology you program to use however you see fit. It has limitations like doing the dishes, but you have to keep your expectations realistic.
What it will do, in addition to some standard fitness tracker features, is control the world around you. With some super easy programming and few module swaps, you can control your smart home devices, manage your music, play games, even send emergency messages.
Nex Band is the have it your way brand of wearable that has come a long way and still could fail (but we hope not).
Let’s get this out of the way up front. The first generation Nex band is large. For most people, it will stick out too far from their wrists. They’ll knock off mods left and right.
That’s okay. The first generation of anything is only for early adopters. It will get thinner. For now, there are two color options, white or black.
The base of the band isn’t much different than most of the trackers out there. It has that plastic look that we’ve come to expect from wearables.
What separates Nex from the competition is the five mods just above the power button. What these buttons can do is up to you. We’ll come back to that.
The mods light up with multi-colored LEDs when pressed. They may even have watermarking to help you keep track of what they’ve can do or whom they belong.
They click into place as you prefer. You can even hot-swap them, which means you don’t have to reboot your wearable for them to work. Click, and they just go.
If you’ve ever used IFTTT, then you can program Nex Band. Don’t feel intimidated if you’ve never heard of IFTTT. You’ll be alright.
Creating what they call “hacks,” is as simple as opening the companion app on your iOS or Android device, then picking from a menu. You select the mod you want to hack, then what it will do when you press it.
You have options as far as one click, two clicks, a hold or otherwise, but then you pick what that action does. Similar to IFTTT, those actions have the limitless potential, from activating light patterns on the Nex Band to turning the buttons into controllers for your music.
Over time, if you’re not always changing the hacks, your Nex Band would be an extension of your reach. Pressing buttons to handle actions would become automated.
Sure, Nex Band may never see another generation, but we doubt that. Despite not making regular headlines like Apple and Fitbit, the Nex Band has quietly been making alliances. They have money and support.
There is a community of people who are into this kind of hackable functionality. While the current form factor of Nex Band may not fit everyone’s style, what happens when they can cram those mods into a wearable that looks like jewelry?
The smart move that the crew behind Nex made was to partner with IFTTT. IFTTT recipes, as they call them, grow every day. Their partnerships are also wide.
This integration could be all Nex needed to bulletproof its opportunities. For users who’ve come to appreciate the automation that comes with active use of IFTTT, access from a band may be the Nex logical step. (See what I did there?)
Whatever happens to Nex, we’re fans. We hope to see further refinements.
It’s doubtful that anyone looking for a fitness-specific band will select this as their first choice, but for those who see value in automating life, why not track fitness data while we’re at it?
You’ll get three days on one charge from the first generation for this band. It’s not exactly waterproof yet, but it’ll take a splash of water or some sweat.
It’s these refinements that may rocket the band to the Nex level.
Zip over the Nex site to learn more about their product or receive updates.