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Nex Band Is Hackable, Digital Charm Bracelet

The Nex Band started life as science fiction. Literally. A few years ago, the co-founders of Mighty Cast, the Canadian company behind the product, were focus-testing a story about a group of vigilante kids sporting magical charm bracelets with a host of interchangeable powers, trying to determine whether the plot would work better as a video game or book series. “Every group we brought in was so fixated on this bracelet, it almost became a joke,” says Adam Adelman, CEO and co-founder Mighty Cast. “It was like a hammer over the head at one point that we said, ‘Oh, we should make this bracelet.’ ”

It took Mighty Cast more than three years to go from that lightbulb moment to the final stages of manufacturing, with a ship date coming in the near future. The journey has been worth it though, Adelman says. He won’t reveal exact figures, but notes that the Nex Band has received very strong preorder numbers and great feedback. The item is available for preorder online for $99.

The band consists of a base and five swappable “Mods,” which can be hacked to do anything from providing discreet social notifications to controlling your digital music library or opening the garage of your connected home. The Mods also act as containers, holding photos, videos or personal notes and can be traded with friends to share custom hacks and content.

Tech developers are always on the lookout for the “killer app” when it comes to wearables, Adelman explains. Mighty Cast quickly discovered, however, that “the killer app is that there is no killer app for wearables,” he adds. “Everyone wants to personalize and use them in a different way. The ability to personalize the Nex Band and do whatever you want to do on that particular day in a very quick and easy way, that’s the killer app.”

The fact that the Nex Band doesn’t include a screen is a feature, not a bug, Adelman says. “If you’re interested in having a screen on your wrist, there are plenty of products that do it a lot better than we do,” he says. “We just give light-animated notifications.” For instance, through the companion phone app, wearers could program a raindrop pattern as a notification that it’s about to rain. Or wearers could set up a celebratory pattern in their favorite team’s colors to play whenever they win a game. The product’s target demographic – teens and young adults – like the private, personalized nature of the notifications, Adelman says.

The Nex Band also has branding potential with its Mods. Mighty Cast is already in talks with gaming companies and license partners to bring some stylized, custom Mods to market later this year. Perhaps, Adelman says, you would get a branded Mod as a collectible from a festival or event. Adelman likens it to how college kids would often collect iron-on patches for their backpacks from each country they visit when they travel through Europe. The branded Mods would be “an outward expression of what you like, but you’d get that digital experience on the inside too.”