New Startup Seeks to Bring Smartphone Controls to Your Necklace

While some companies are racing to create the flashiest smartwatch or sleekest Google Glass competitor, others are focusing on a more neglected sector of the wearable tech market. Enter the XOWi Personal Voice Companion, a small accessory that can be worn as a badge or a necklace and is capable of pairing with your smartphone.

The tiny badge interacts with a companion app available for Android, iOS, Windows Phone and BlackBerry operating systems. Reminiscent of  Apple’s iPod Shuffle, the Personal Voice Companion comes in a variety of colors and features a clip for attaching the gadget to your clothing. Startup XOWi, which is launching the Kickstarter campaign for the Voice Badge on Oct. 22, touts its device as optimal for situations that call for hands-free phone calls.

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XOWi also says that its Personal Voice Companion is capable of interacting with other virtual voice assistants on the market, hinting that it could integrate with Siri, Google Now or S Voice. The company is working on software that would also communicate with Facebook, Twitter and eBay.

We’ll know more about what the badge can do once its Kickstarter page goes live, but from what we know now, you'll be able to talk through the device or enable voice commands for your smartphone. The voice-controlled badge looks minimalistic with a circular button located in its center that could be used to end phone calls. Ahmed Bouzid, XOWi co-founder and CEO, said this is what separates the Voice Badge from its competing wearable tech.

“It’s all about the user interface,” Bouzid said in a statement. “A lot of attention and energy are being poured on smartwatches and glasses, but neither takes us away from the visual-tactile centric interface that we have been using since the introduction of the touch smartphone UI about six years ago.”

As wearable technology begins to transition from its niche market to mainstream consumers, we’re seeing device makers experiment with different form factors. While companies such as Samsung and Sony have entered the smartwatch game, recent reports have suggested Nokia is testing a bizarre bracelet-like wristband with multiple displays. Devices such as Memento’s wearable camera let you wear the shooter as a necklace allowing for hands-free photography, but the Voice Badge is among the few in that category that would act as a smartphone companion if it hits its $100,000 goal.

Lisa Eadicicco
LAPTOP Staff Writer
Lisa has been reporting on all things mobile for since early 2013. When she’s not reviewing gadgets, she’s usually browsing patent databases or interviewing experts to track down the hottest tech trends before they even happen. Lisa holds a B.A. in Journalism from SUNY Purchase and has contributed to The International Business Times, The New York Daily News and Guitar World Magazine.