The audio fob flips open from the band, and then you hold your palm up to your ear to amplify the sound. The effect looks like a game of pretend Telephone, which is a little bizzare. But in a demo last week in New York City, I heard for myself the audio quality, both when accepting a phone call and when trying to overhear Hamid’s conversation. I couldn’t hear what the person on the other end was saying to Hamid, though he was sitting just across the table from me, and it might be a solid solution for quick phone calls. The audio fob can also detach from the band and turn into a stand-alone Bluetoothearpiece.
The audio fob doesn’t require an app, just a Bluetooth connection to your nearbysmartphone. The Bluetooth smart fob that puts notifications on the underside of your wrist comes with an app, the same app that pairs with PHTL’s Hot Watch (their version of asmartwatch that came out last year). The smart fob is tiny, with 132×28 display. You tap through notifications offering up info like your step count and the weather by using a touchpad just below the screen. Unlike the Apple Watch’s notifications, which you can fine-tune to see just the most relevant information, the Hot Band’s smart fob pushes every notification that comes to your iPhone. And the notifications aren’t actionable.
If you want the full smartwatch experience, the Hot Band isn’t for you. It isn’t for me, either—I never take phone calls from my Apple Watch and I don’t even own an analog one. But if you want to retrofit your traditional timepiece and get a sense of what it’s like to use asmartwatch, the band offers that experience at a fraction of the price. The battery should last longer too—the band runs for a week on a single charge, and comes with a magneticcharger).
The company is raising $100,000 on Kickstarter to mass produce the band. They have fully functional prototypes ready to go, as I saw in New York. Early backers can choose between a strap and audio fob, or strap and smart fob, for $49, and the first wave will ship in May. The Hot Band will eventually retail for $99.