Try as we might, it's hard to predict what a company like Razer might do. The firm has surprised us year after year with overpowered tablets, shockingly thin gaming laptops and OLED-adorned keyboard interfaces. When tasked with predicting what the outfit would come up with next, we never would have guessed it'd be announcing a fitness tracker in 2014. And yet, it did: the Razer Nabu. When company CEO Min-Liang Tan briefed us on the product, he was careful to dance around the word tracker. "It's not a smartwatch," he said. "It's not a fitness band. It's what we're calling a 'smart band.'" Min gave us an introduction to the device at CES 2014: read on a closer look at the band, and a video of the CEO demoing the product for the first time.
The device is actually an odd combination of both, featuring the bio data-tracking features of fitness products, while also dispensing notifications via two small OLED displays -- a small 32-pixel square that displays notification icons, and a larger 128 x 32 panel that ticks off texts, emails and other personal data. By positioning the screens on opposite sides of the user's wrist, Razer hopes the second screen will act as sort of a privacy screen, keeping folks from reading your texts by glancing at your wrist. The band can also track a user's location, altitude, steps walked, sleep data and everything else one needs to quantify their body. All of this, Min adds, works right out of the box, for both iOS and Android.
Nabu appears to be a good take on the growing wearables market, but the question still remains: Why is a gaming company building a so-called smart band? Never fear, Min says, "real-world gamification is something we're really focused on." Nabu is built on an open development platform, which Min hopes will allow developers to build augmented reality games. Band-to-band communication allows Nabu devices to detect proximity to other Nabu bands, and trade information (think 3DS Street Pass), which could be used to create augmented reality "tag" games, for instance. We can't say the idea sells us on the product, but it's something. Developers will be able to pick up Nabu by the end of Q1 2014 for $50, and the company says it should last 7-10 days on a single charge. Razer wouldn't tell us the final consumer price, but did mention it should fall under $100.