Cooling demand for wearables doesn’t mean every wearable company is bowing down to Fitbit and the Apple Watch.
Mighty Cast has been hacking away at its modular Nex Band for the last couple of years with only a bit of success with hobbyists and tinkerers. At CES 2017, the company introduced two new models that make a better case for picking them up.
The first is $80 Nex Band Evolution. It’s smaller, has a sleeker design and the strap is adjustable to fit better on different wrists. The second is the Ingress Mod Band, designed to work specifically with Niantic Labs’ Ingress mobile game for iOS and Android
First, the Nex Band Evolution. The premise is still the same: Encourage the “hacking” of the five programmable touch-sensitive color “Mods” on the band to fit your needs. Whether that’s controlling your music, getting a light or vibration notification from an app or sending messages — it’s up to you how you want to configure your band.
With an array of sensors, including a 3-axis accelerometer for tracking steps, calories and distance, the Nex Band Evolution does track most of your basic fitness needs. One thing that could be a deal breaker is the lack of a heart-rate monitor.
Its waterproof design also means it can survive a little wetness (rain, shower, etc.). Battery life is also pretty solid for a wearable — up to three days on a single charge.
Niantic Labs, as you might already be familiar with, also makes Pokémon Go. (But don’t get too excited for any kind of Pokémon Go Nex Band just yet. Currently, the Ingress Mod Band is just for the Ingress game.)
When connected to Ingress, the wearable shows various game-centric actions that players can trigger without needing to open up the smartphone app.
For instance, “Faction Mods” show notifications (like portal attack notices) for specific factions or teams, and users can drop a location pin for their locations and share it with their teammates by double-tapping a special mod.
Needless to say, the Ingress Mod Band is mainly for the most diehard of Ingress players. Mighty Cast hasn’t announced pricing on the Ingress Mod Band, but we’re going to bet it’ll cost a small premium over the regular Nex Band Evolution.
The Nex Band’s programmable light modules have always been an interesting idea that gives users full control over what kind of controls and notifications their wearable outputs. In the cutthroat wearable market, it might fill a niche that’s just too nerdy for most.