A while back we talked about Kairos, the mechanical hybrid smartwatch and even sat down and interviewed founder Sam Yang. At that time Kairos had a pre-order campaign for their watches that gave early adopters the chance to get in early and reserve a watch at half price. They eventually finished that pre-order campaign and even announced a new product called the Kairos T-Band, a band for non-smartwatches that could provide similar functionality. At the time of the T-Band announcement I expressed some initial concerns over the announcement of one product while the previous product had not shipped yet (it was running behind.)
Now here we are and my concerns have from that time been allayed as Kairos has publicly announced that they will begin shipping pre-order units starting yesterday. With the coming release I took a few minutes to correspond with Yang again and see where they stand. Some of these questions and answers were before an actual date for shipping had been released and mid-June was all that we knew. Additionally, I want to throw in that Kairos has developed what they call a skeleton lug end design that will be shipping on devices later this year.
Techaeris (TA): Is shipping still on track for June?
Sam Yang (SY): On track – yes it is. We are now waiting on parts to arrive to HK where it will all be assembled. So unless there are major hold ups at customs… or somehow our components go missing… we are all good to go. However as you know, this is not the entire lot, but only 150. The next 150 is 1 week later. After that rest of non-skeleton lug ends goes out end of June – which is 5 weeks from now.
TA: How will fulfillment be handled?
SY: Fulfillment will be handled by Shipwire.com. However the first few hundred might have to be done manually via FEDEX instead as it’s not a huge amount.
TA: How was the response on skeleton lug ends? Did most people opt for the earlier date or skeleton lugs? How about the white faceplate?
SY: About 1/3 of our pre-order customers opted for the skeleton lug ends. Which is what we also recommend. About 1/3 of our pre-order customers also opted for the white faceplate, again something we also strongly recommend, especially for MSW models. It just looks so much nicer in person.
TA: Do you have a goal date or prospective date when you are no longer fulfilling orders and can simply just sell straight to customers?
SY: We were planning to sell straight out (no pre-orders), but all of our watches are sold out, except for few T-band combo units. This is why we are now taking deposits at full price. I think by Sept or October, we should have some inventory to start selling right away without having to wait.
TA: Do you have any store front info you can share? 3rd party partnerships be it Amazon, Best Buy, or jewelry stores?
SY: We will be selling exclusively to premium retailers (for Kairos line) to countries where we have already setup agreements with (since Baselworld). However there are still lots of countries that we have not yet assigned any retailer – for these countries, we will be selling directly (temporarily of course.) Amazon, Best Buy… have all contacted us several times, but we don’t feel like that Kairos products with prices that range from $1200 to $2500 is a good fit for these retail store fronts. Furthermore, mechanical movements that we use are very limited and takes so long to get (another reason why our SSW took so long from the beginning). For us, it’s not a matter of quantity, but quality in each and every product we ship out. We plan on doing large numbers with T-band based products in the near future via mobile carriers. We are already in deep discussions with some of the major carriers around the world, including USA.
TA: How will the watches work with different operating systems?
SY: You can change OS at anytime via firmware update.
TA: Windows Phone support?
SY: Yes, our firmware now already works with Windows Phone.
TA: Is there any possibility of a Hybrid with Android Wear or is the OS too restrictive?
SY: This was something that we REALLY tried hard with Google. If you recall my video interview with you guys, I’m also a hardcore Android user myself. However, both Google and Kairos couldn’t find a way to work together in this manner because of the display technology. Android Wear requires minimum 180 dpi resolution display, lots of memory, and faster processing power. Given that we don’t have space to fit in 400 mAH of battery, it would mean that if we use Android Wear, our watches would last for few hours at most per charge. However, just like Pebble, our OS is able to handle Android notifications.
TA: How were things with Indiegogo? Did that campaign go the way you were hoping? How do you feel about Indiegogo as a whole and would you use them again?
SY: T-band Indiegogo campaign didn’t go as well as planned. Most customers were unsure if the T-band would fit their watch. It would ’ve probably done better if we had a cheaper watch connected to the T-band at around $299 range. We don’t plan on using any crowdfunding platforms anymore. Handling pre-orders is a logistical nightmare. It also overwhelms our team with the number of emails that we get. We have MAJOR things happened in the 2nd half of 2015. We will definitely be making a very strong push this year and you might be surprised even… to see where we will be by December.
TA: Any T-Band info to share?
SY: We are rigorously working on this with a whole new team. We had to bring in watch and electronics experts with experience of 35 years or more. It’s actually much harder to produce these than we initially thought. Luckily for us, we have world’s best team on this right now. We should have a new “production spec prototype” ready in a few weeks time.
TA: Does the August ship dates on T-Band and plain mechanical look like they will still be hit?
SY: August schedule for T-band ND and HD is still feasible. We are still waiting on confirmation from our display supplier for the OD series. For sure, it won’t be as delayed as our original hybrid watches
TA: Are there any other accessories planned, like say for the hybrid?
SY: Yes but we can’t release info on this just yet.
TA: Thoughts on the market, competitors?
SY: I think overall, any competition is good. However, some of the larger companies are starting to view us as a threat since we are now signing up major brands are official partners who we will be sharing our technologies to. It’s still a tough position to be in, but we are confident so far. We were recently granted several new patents and we are now raising even more capital to expand our product line up.
TA: Apple Watch… tried one?
SY: I did try one of the Apple Watches with the metal straps. Very nicely done. I have a lot of great things to say about the watch. However, I still put them I the same category as “digital watch” … When the battery runs out, it’s still a fancy bracelet with a black screen. That’s our biggest edge – even without power, Kairos Watches and T-band combo units still looks great.
So there you have it. It looks like Kairos is on the ball and starting the fun part of their journey, trying to carve out their niche as a small manufacturer. We should be receiving a unit at some point over the Summer and look forward to providing a review here on Techaeris. If you missed out on the pre-orders you can still get in line for Kairos products on their website.