Fitness trackers have enjoyed too long in the sun, considering how little most of them actually do. The push now is to get them to offer more to consumers who’ve until now been satisfied to record how many miles they’ve run or sit-ups they’ve done. The soon to be released Kiwi Move is looking to be counted among the products bringing the technology to the next level and is showing its wares at this year’s CES in Las Vegas.
Packed with MEMS sensors that recognize movement, products like Jawbone’s UP bracelet, Nike’s FuelBand and FitBit’s assortment of products track how active you are, how inactive you are and your corresponding calorie burn. The data can then be viewed and analyzed on your computer or mobile device.
Toronto-based Kiwi Wearable Technologies’ first product – a small, clip-on chiplike object called the Move – is an attempt to add to that list of services without necessarily reinventing the wheel. Their device, due out this July, can track movement during a workout, but also helps users take voice notes and make grocery lists, record monetary budgets, identify music being played and maintain song playlists, record sleeping habits and control household or other devices. It responds to hand gestures as well. (demo below)
CEO and co-founder Ali Nawab says the company has outlined applications in healthcare, the visual arts as a device controller, a security controller, and integration with devices sold by telecommunications companies.
The Kiwi Move is equipped with motion and temperature sensors as well as a microphone, and comes standard with 6 applications. Developers are welcome to try their hand at creating as many other applications as they can think of, says Nawab.
So far Kiwi Wearables has sold over 200 of the $99 devices as preorders from its website. Kiwi was formed by five entrepreneurs that met at a Toronto hack-a-thon and found they worked well together. In addition to Nawab, Ashley Beattie heads up marketing, John David Chibuk runs R&D, Olivier Mayrand handles design and Zaki Patel is the company CTO. All had experience in either design or other startups and each threw down $10,000 in mid 2013 to bootstrap the company and build a prototype and develop a business plan.
Another $100,000 or so was raised from friends, family and select angels. The company is now hunting for capital again. “We don’t advertise it, we don’t talk about it but we have people that come in and they’ll write us a check,” says Nawab. He calls this a “bridge” round to sustain the company and build revenue to attract interest from other investors that would ideally help Kiwi raise another $2 million.
After the first shipment mails out to users that have preordered the Kiwi Move, Nawab and Co. intend to focus on developing further applications and filie more patents. Though the company has fewer than 10 people on its roster, it has benefitted from a wider network of hardware engineers, firmware developers, graphic and industrial designers and marketers that Nawab calls the “Kiwi Community.” “Now, as we are getting into a position where we’re getting larger funding offers and larger players are getting involved, we want to make sure that we remember people that have helped us in the early days.” Nawab would not name the larger players he claims are getting involved.
Kiwi is not just shooting for the consumer market. The team has plans to partner with larger software services providers that might want to deploy their technology. But there’s a more complex model to be embraced, says Nawab. The company is currently in talks to partner with other movement tracking companies to develop technology for those companies. “There’s a slew of companies that are now in the wearable tech space and if this thing keeps going at the rate that it’s going, there’s a lot of demand not just for end consumer products but a lot of the tools that are needed to build and maintain these end products—there’s a real demand for cloud tools and platform-type services that companies can plug into to either expand their reach or to be able to enable their offering to their consumers.”
Acting as supplemental technology for more established movement tracking firms could be a boon to the Kiwi’s bottom line in the short run. In the long run it’s a good way to groom itself for acquisition. Will Kiwi Wearable Technologies stay its own master? Probably for the foreseeable future, until it can up its revenue, which so far is not much to speak of. Such is the way of the startup.
Let’s watch Kiwi and see what happens.
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