‘We really need to be exactly what people want’
AUSTIN, Texas – It’s been a long road to market for UnaliWear, maker of the Kanega voice-controlled watch, but the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter as the company looks to launch the device in 2017.
“We hope to be in production in the fourth quarter this year,” said JeanAnne Booth, CEO and founder of UnaliWear.
A $100,000 Kickstarter campaign launched in 2015 originally called for the device to be available last year, but Booth wanted to be sure the Kanega was something users needed, so adjustments to the timeline were made along the way.
“We really need to be exactly what people want,” she said.
The Kanega watch is a voice-controlled device that features fall detection, medication reminders, emergency assistance, voice-activated directions and Guide Me Home assistance if the user gets lost. The waterproof device works independently of a home-based system or smartphone and has no buttons to push.
The watch uses artificial intelligence to learn the wearer’s lifestyle, and that information is updated each night.
The company has spent the past five months deep into a user experience test on the latest version of the device. Users included about 100 people across the country ages 23 to 97 with Multiple Sclerosis, Lou Gherig’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, Down’s Syndrome, blindness, disabled veterans and seniors.
Booth said the user experience test was invaluable to the company, as it brought to light some issues only a user would experience like battery charging and instruction language.
“The user experience test was fantastic—we knew it was the right thing to do,” she said.
Booth said UnaliWear will look to add biometrics to the Kanega device in the future.
“We want to wait on the biometrics until we have enough money to get through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration process independently, without having to rely on investors,” she said.
The company is continuing with a smaller user experience test on the final production version over the coming weeks.