New Delhi: Raj Neravati had a high-paying job and a comfortable life in the US. Having spent 17 years in the IT industry, Raj was the Chief Operating Officer at Cigniti Technologies.
However, the Nirbhaya incident in December 2012, which shook the entire nation, pushed Raj to leave it all and look into women’s safety in India.
Focussing on the lifestyle category, Raj and his team settled on creating a smartwatch, and Hug Innovations was founded in October 2014. Explaining the logic behind the name, Raj says that it came from the need to give the brand a positive and affectionate name, rather than one that highlighted fear.
According to Raj, the three functionalities that differentiate the product from a smartphone include personal safety, IoT gesturing, and integration with nutrition, health, or fitness regimes.
The Hug smartwatch provides all the standard features of a smartwatch ‑ call management, dialing contacts, notification alerts from social media, e-mails and news. The watch also provides a standard template of messages, which a user can respond with, in case he/she is unable to receive a call.
Added functionalities include heart rate monitoring, which through the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms alerts the user on an abnormality.
Giving it a twist
But what the creators really wanted was features that set the Hug smartwatch apart from other competitors. Therefore, they introduced gestures for virtual reality (VR). The watch acts as a game controller or a gesture controller when connected to the VR glass.
Raj believes that the real experience for VR is enhanced when the controls are touchless. The watch also connects to other Bluetooth supported devices like a Kinect or Bluetooth speakers to control and communicate with the connected devices through plain gestures. This addition of gesture control opens the possibility to other technology integrations including home automation.
The real mission
The concept behind this was to build a self-sustained community for safety, where people could help each other without relying only on police forces. The watch packs in an alert panic button, which sends an SOS trigger to the user’s friends and family.
The watch also alerts other watch users in the vicinity, sending an abstract identity of the user along with the exact location of the incident.
The computation is divided between the watch and the smartphone it is connected to. This in turn helps the watch save on battery life. Also, being smart about optimum usage, the watch can work for up to two full days on a single charge.
Just like a MacBook charger, the phone is connected to a magnetic touch charger to ensure the watch is plugged in for charge. The creators have also equipped the watch with a quick charge feature. The watch gets 70 percent charged in the first one hour, and takes an additional 30 minutes to be fully charged.
The company is looking to price the watch at Rs 9,999. As part of a pre-launch and introductory offer, they are selling the watch at Rs 8,000, this month.