The tech on your wrist might boast a bright retina display . . . but what if you took away the screen entirely?
Shantanu Bala, Ajay Karpur, and Jake Rockland of Somatic Labs have found that the most intuitive tech wearables don’t require a screen at all. In fact, we may be better off without one.
Moment, Somatic Labs’s first product, is the first tech wearable that communicates information entirely through your sense of touch. Rather than displaying caller ID, GPS navigation, time, and other features on a glass screen, Moment uses subtle pulses to send you information. The more you use Moment, the more intuitive it becomes.
Co-founder Shantanu Bala spent years studying haptic feedback (the use of touch to provide information) before helping start Somatic Labs. Six years at the Center for Cognitive Ubiquitous Computing allowed him to explore the ways haptics could be used to create assistive and rehabilitative technologies. There Shantanu combined haptic feedback with chairs, gloves, and body suits. At the same time, he left Arizona State University as a 2014 Thiel Fellow—an innovator under 20 years of age who receives $100,000 to invest in a new idea. Shantanu was ready to develop his best idea yet: a wearable device that communicates information entirely through sense of touch.
In February 2016, Shantanu was joined by Ajay Karpur and Jake Rockland, who helped form Shantanu’s idea into a business. Aside from a small “investment round” from friends and family, Somatic Labs was entirely bootstrapped. Their first ever round of public funding comes from their crowdfunding campaign, hosted on Moment’s own website.
“If we’re building devices to be worn on the human body, they should communicate with our bodies in the way they naturally take in information: our sense of touch,” says co-founder Jake. “Currently the best we have are LCD displays—we can do better. Instead of strapping smaller screens to our wrists, we should be turning our skin into a programmable display.”
Moment officially launched for pre-order on September 12th. The device features silent and precise quad linear actuators, week-long use on a single charge, an adjustable multi-color LED, and a matching smartphone application. Moment is durable and water-resistant. While devices available for pre-order will come in Black Edition (a black wearable with a white silicon band), Moment is compatible with just about any 22mm watch band.
Somatic Labs hopes to reach their $100,000 crowdfunding goal by October 18th. Devices will be manufactured in Tempe starting in January 2017; backers will receive their pre-ordered Moment wearables in March.