Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Two Next-Level Wearables That Aren’t for Everyone

MemiMany people are waiting for expected upcoming smartwatches from Apple and Google to take the wearable category to the next level. Or at least as much of a next-level as you can expect from a first-generation product. “It seems as though the whole product category has moved on to Activity Tracking 1.1, but hasn’t quite graduated to Wearables 2.0,” AllThingsD’s Lauren Goode astutely observed.

Until that next level arrives, today’s wearable gadgets offer limited activity-tracking accuracy and somewhat forced integration with phones. Trying out the notifier watch Pebble or the often-buggy Jawbone Up can feel like beta-testing prerelease prototype products. At best, the products provide the user with a little push to be more active.

In an attempt to compete with what’s available today, and to carve out space before the biggies hit the market, a couple of new bands are currently raising money via crowdfunding by trying to be excellent by being more specific.

The Memi is kind of like the Pebble watch, but specifically for women. It’s based around notifications, not fitness. The big appeal is the simplicity of the design: A simple metal bangle that vibrates to indicate incoming calls and texts from people on a preapproved list. There’s no display.

Based in Atlanta and New York City, Memi launched on Kickstarter three days ago, and has raised just over $20,000, with a goal of $100,000.

“A lot of these smartwatches are trying to do more. You’re getting pinging and dinging, vibrating and lights. We’re taking a different approach, for women who want to unplug a little more,” said Memi co-founder and president Margaux Guerard, who formerly worked in luxury marketing with brands like Bobbi Brown and Diane von Furstenberg.

Guerard’s pitch is that Memi will allow women to leave their phones in their pockets or bags, and only pull them out when they know that a call or message is important. Memi is also meant to be pretty.

“Timeless jewelry is metal,” Guerard said. “And really nothing else in this space is metal.”

Kickstarter pledgers can currently get Memi bands for $125.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the spectrum is Push, a new wearable band for bodybuilders.


Made by a startup from Toronto, Push is worn on the forearm, so the wrists can be left free for weight-lifting. An onboard accelerometer and gyroscope detect the force, power and velocity of each exercise.

Why couldn’t this just be done with a smartphone and a strap? The accelerometer is higher-quality than those found in smartphones, and the device needs to be worn with the band right up against the skin to get the best measurements, according to Michael Lovas, Push’s chief design officer.

Push will also offer a belt to measure exercises that don’t involve the arms, though Lovas said the forearm should cover most of the big lifts, including squats, deadlifts, bench press, military press, clean and jerk. The default size should be small enough to fit women, he said.

Indiegogo backers can buy the device for $149. Push is also planning to sell through coaches, who will pay a monthly fee to set up a fitness portal for their athletes and observe their progress.

Push has exceeded its Indiegogo goal of $80,000 Canadian dollars, with 18 days of fundraising to go, and more than $94,000 CAD pledged.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald