Toronto-based startup launches first ‘smart’ accessory

Just over a year ago, the Pebble smart watch raised over $10 million to become the highest funded project on Kickstarter. Since then we’ve seen companies like Samsung Corp. launch their own smartphones and the rumours of Apple Inc.’s iWatch continue to persist. In fact, the entire “smart” wearable industry has exploded in recent months.

However, despite the popularity of gadgets such as the smart watch, the majority of people have yet to enthusiastically embrace this new technology. This is where, I believe, Toronto-based startup, Kiwi Wearable Technologies comes in.

Kiwi has recently launched a Kickstarter campaign of their own for their new product, Glance.

According to their press release, Kiwi claims that Glance is the world’s first smart accessory that turns any watch… into a smartwatch.

“Wearables have the perception of being unfashionable and not for a wide audience. Glance is a wearable anyone can easily incorporate into their daily wardrobe without comprising personal style,” says Ali Nawab, CEO and co-founder of Kiwi. “Because you don’t have to invest hundreds into a new smart watch, it is a great way for consumers to start using wearable technology by augmenting the existing watch they love.”

Ali Nawab, CEO and co-founder of Kiwi
Ali Nawab, CEO and co-founder of Kiwi.

I recently asked Nawab about his recent journey with Kiwi and Glance.

Why did you decide to build an accessory rather than a full watch with the capability of a smartwatch?

“A large segment of the population still wears their watch. It can be for style, sentimental value or many other reasons. Our technology is small and can be designed in a way that provides all the benefits of a smart watch, while letting the wearer maintain their personal style.”

Why do you believe there is a viable market for accessories rather than full product?

“We are our product’s first customers. We tried on all the smart watches which provided utility but didn’t have the aesthetics that would compete with our existing watches; at least not yet. The watch market is quite large, and our focus groups and feedback suggests that accessories that adapt to the user’s context and style will perform well.”

What did you learn from your first product that helped you make/perfect Glance?

“We have already been shipping units of our first product, the Kiwi MOVE developer kit and realized that most companies are overshooting the market in terms of technology, but not giving enough attention to how the users behave and utilize these products. Glance has been designed with specific use-cases in mind e.g. find my phone, see who’s calling,  which are all activities where our technology can enhance the user experience.”



Karim Kanji
Karim Kanji
Karim Kanji is the Canadian Director of Social Media Strategy at iNvolved Media. iNvolved Media was purchased by Active International in 2015. Clients include popular food brands, technology brands and other CPG companies. Prior to joining iNvolved Media, Karim led the paid social media strategy for some of Canada's most popular CPG and confectionery brands for Catalyst/GroupM. Karim started in the social media space when he co-founded and was the President of THIRDOCEAN where he led the creation of digital content for companies including Scotiabank, Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, Microsoft, Wild Water Kingdom, Palomino Systems Inc. and Techvibes. Karim has also been recognized as a pioneer in podcasting having interviewed people such as such as federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, former MLSE boss Richard Peddie, TVO's Steve Paikin, Canadian serial angel investor Dr. Boris Wertz, HootSuite founder Ryan Holmes, Mathew Ingram, Mitch Joel from Mirium and many, many others. As a demonstration of thought leadership, Karim led the development and execution of reports discussing how technology and digital media have impacted industries such as retail, education, health, gaming, sports and banking.

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