An Irish start-up called Zband which makes Android and Windows Phone compatible wristband devices that serve as a silent alarm has exported the gadget to 30 countries within the past four months.
Paul Griffin, who previously worked in the construction industry, and his colleague Declan Leonard, an IT manager by profession, started up the company.
Griffin got the idea after being startled awake by his phone’s alarm one morning and once he regained his composure decided there had to be a better and more gentle way to be woken up.
He sparked on the idea of a wristband device that would vibrate gradually to wake you up.
The device would communicate via Bluetooth with a smartphone app that would enable the Zband wearer to set the alarm for him or her to be woken up or for discreet reminders during the day.
Despite having the idea, it took three years for it to become a reality as the duo dealt with feature creep and the practicalities of manufacturing and distribution.
Rather than cram the app with loads of different functions, Griffin explained that they settled on it functioning primarily as an alarm.
Turning an idea into reality
Leonard developed apps for both the Android and Windows Phone platforms.
“I had the idea in summer 2009 but in January 2010 I decided to do something about it and began checking out patents. Declan thought it was a great idea and decided to come on board.”
The Zband consists of a rubber wristband into which a small electronic device with a microUSB port can be placed. On the front of the device is a single button with a LED light that indicates communication with smartphones.
When the alarm goes off on any given morning, the device will vibrate. To set it to snooze just tap the device once, but to turn the alarm off just keep your finger on the button until it vibrates four times in quick succession in response.
“The handstraps are made in Taiwan and we get the electronic components manufactured in New Zealand. We assemble and ship the final product in Ireland and we have so far shipped the devices to 30 countries, everywhere from Singapore to Sweden,” Griffin explained.
The Zband retails for €39.99 and Griffin said an iOS version is likely to be added over time.
“At the moment we are focused on Windows Phone and Android. Apple run a closed system when it comes to hardware and we’d need to access their Bluetooth systems for compatibility and so that will take time.
“We will add new features and services over time. We operate out of Dublin and now employ three people, which isn’t bad going since we started shipping on 10 February.”
Griffin said he is also mulling over new retail and distribution channels. “We are talking to people in Ireland, South Africa, Australia and Singapore,” he added.