The NEX Band: Wearable games on your wrist
When you think about wearable games, you might turn your attention to the likes of Oculus Rift or Google Glass. For Mighty Cast's Adam Adelman, it's all in the wrist.
The NEX Band
is a physical wristband that can connect to your mobile device, and potentially provide additional or separate experiences for existing games, with multiple possibilities thanks to the various charms, or "mods," you can attach to it.
"You have a lot of other bands, like the Nike FuelBand or the Jawbone Up Band, and they're pretty much locked into one application," explains Adelman. "The differentiator for us is that we have these removable, sharable mods which are different tokens that fit onto the band itself and each mod has its own unique ID."
What this means is that each charm can potentially represent a different character, or powerup, or anything else in a game, and attaching the mod will add these elements to the game. A mod could even be used to trigger an entirely different game, meaning that mods could be games themselves.
Here's how it works: Each charm has a unique ID, and these are managed in the cloud. Mods can be swapped, given to other NEX Band users, and traded for different experiences.
"I know a lot of mobile game companies right now who are struggling to monetize online... So we take that into the physical world, and sell physical mods for them."
"One easy way to explain what we do is to start with a concept like Skylanders
," notes Adelman. "We're not comparing ourselves to that, but obviously with Skylanders
, you go and buy characters, you place them on the Portal of Power, and you see the virtual representation on the screen. That's pretty much where the engagement ends."
"We are an extension from there," he continues. "Our NEX Band can support five different game pieces at one time, but you can have as many as you want, and the cloud always knows your progress, or what your inventory is."
For example, if you were playing Clash of Clans
, and one of your charms was given a specific status or item, you could then take this off your bracelet and give it to a friend. By exchanging this charm, it may cause the item onboard to level up or change in some way.
Each charm is also being tracked, such that its location is known at all times. It can tell the user how far it has travelled, and how many different bracelets it has been connected to -- something that Adelman says could have many implications for games.
The NEX Band also comes with StreetPass-like functionality. "We have some abilities like Nintendo Streetpass, so when you're walking past someone who's playing the same games, or who has the same console, you're able to recognize them," says Adelman. "But we can go even further. If someone is in one of your clans, your charms can start to flicker faster the closer you get."
There's also the ability to send coded messages to other NEX Band users, and attach your charms in different combinations for different results.
So how can developers get involved with the NEX Band -- and why would they even want to? Says Adelman, the full APIs and SDK are currently being sent out to developers who want to get involved, and the benefits center around taking your monetization strategy into the physical world.
"We really have a razorblade type business model, where the mods almost have virtual good-like margins," he adds. "I know a lot of mobile game companies right now who are struggling to monetize online. They may have a lot of traction and a lot of players, but the freemium model is very challenging, especially for a younger demographic. So we take that into the physical world, and sell physical mods for them."
And the company already has the backing of the Canadian government. It's been granted $1 million in funding to build a new game called The Mighty Maru
-- a Clash of Clans
-like game that will feature NEX Band functionality.
Any developers interested should get in contact with Mighty Cast. The NEX Band itself is due for release in the fourth quarter of 2014, with a large beta release planned for May 2014.