The next big thing consumers might be talking about is the high-tech bracelet from Mighty Cast that caused major buzz at the 2014 American International Toy Fair, held Feb. 16–19 in New York City.
JCK caught up with Adam Adelman, CEO and cofounder of Mighty Cast, and talked to him about his company’s NEX Band.
The NEX Band will cost $99.99, but the company is offering a limited preorder price of $49.
JCK: Tell us a little about the background of Mighty Cast.
Adam Adelman: Mighty Cast was founded in San Francisco back in 2011 by a team of techies and creatives. We were a team of Emmy Award–winning creatives who got together and brainstormed ways we could build out a deep transmedia story that would resonate from the tween/teen demographic all the way through adult. We decided to move the company to Montreal in 2012 to take advantage of the wonderful blend of gaming, technology, creativity, and fashion.
JCK: How did the idea for the NEX Band come about? When did you realize that this idea could work and potentially be a hit?
AA: Originally, the idea was there, but the technology didn’t exist yet. The term “wearable tech” was not part of our vernacular at the time. We dreamed up a story that featured a magical charm bracelet where members of a secret society could communicate, locate each other, and collect different elements to unlock different magical secrets. We conducted focus group after focus group. And, no matter what the age, every single group would say the same thing, “We want that real charm bracelet!”
From that moment on, we shifted gears and became a fashion design and R&D company. This was before the phrase wearable tech was even coined. We realized we were on to something with our continued focus testing. The more features we started to introduce, the more excited everyone got. But we also started to find that the technology was resonating with large brands looking for new and creative ways to engage with their audience. We’re now speaking with some of the largest entertainment brands in the world and are looking forward to making some big announcements soon.
JCK: What are some of the features of the NEX Band? What makes the NEX Band stand out from some of the other wearable tech that’s been in the news recently?
AA: The key differentiator with the NEX Band is that it’s modular. All other bands lock users into one application on the inside and one look on the outside. Our goal is to disrupt the wearable technology space and give power to the consumers. The MODs allow them to customize their experience and style at a fraction of the cost.
Black band with five pyramid studs in two different poses
JCK: MODs sound like Pandora beads that have became Transformers. What are some cool things users can do with their MODs?
AA: Some of the things you can do with the NEX Band are customize your cell phone or social network notifications, track your lost phone, find friends or other hot spots through proximity detection, or track your MODs if they’re swapped or gifted to a friend. For example, it might be interesting to know that your new MOD has been on 30 different wrists, traveled more than 5,000 miles, and visited six different countries. Each MOD is a story. And soon, we’ll be able to add hardware inside a MOD. So if you want a fitness application, there’s no need to go out and buy a completely new band. You’ll just need one of our accelerometer MODs for about $10. We also have gaming applications where individual MODs can act as different characters, weapons, or power-ups. It’s like wearing a fashionable game console on your wrist. Because all MOD IDs are managed in the cloud, the possibilities are endless.
JCK: A vast majority of critics and designers seem to think that the key to wearable tech catching on with the public is to make it look more like a cool, trendy accessory rather than a piece of technology. Is that something your team thought about in the design process, and what are some of the designs you feature that would make someone want to wear it on a daily basis?
AA: Absolutely. Design and customization are the most important features for us. What you wear is an expression of yourself. We’ve worked with industrial designers and fashion experts for nearly two years to find the perfect blend of technology and style. But we’ll always be changing and adding new MOD styles to our line.
Silver band with different MODs
JCK: What are some of the materials you used to manufacture the bracelet?
AA: The MODs will come in many different materials—from matte black finish and iridium lenses to gold, platinum, or chrome bases. The band itself will be polyurethane. Inside, we have a Porsche of a battery that will be roughly four to five times more powerful than the Nike Fuel Band’s.
JCK: What kind of reaction did the product receive at the American International Toy Fair?
AA: We were very confident that we’d have an exciting reaction at the tech, gaming, and fashion events we’ve attended. But we were very surprised by the reaction our technology received at Toy Fair. Mighty Cast has patents pending on something we call “Base and Token” technology. Our platform is extensible into all sorts of other products, namely with connected toys. And linking collectibles to mobile gaming was of particular interest to a lot of the toy manufacturers.
JCK: After CES 2013, wearable tech has been hot. Why do you think this trend has popped the way it has?
AA: It won’t be long before everyday objects are all connected to the Internet. This is the so-called Internet of Things market, which is expected to grow to a $14 trillion opportunity in just the next few years. That’s where technology is headed. In fact, it’s already here. And being able to have all of these capabilities on your body is just the logical next step. I expect we will see quite a bit of creativity still to come in the space.
JCK: The NEX Band is set to ship out in the fourth quarter. What has the response from consumers been like so far?
AA: We have been overwhelmed by the anticipation and excitement surrounding our launch. We never would have guessed it would have created such a stir! We are constantly getting emails from consumers, brands, and app developers offering different MOD ideas of their own. And to be honest, that’s where our best ideas come from.