“If you're not into smartwatches today, especially a traditional watch manufacturer, we're the way to get the right product for your customer.”
So does its co-founder Steve Procup Mijo was incorporated, described the company's business, and it made me very curious and excited about the future of smartwatches. I spoke with Prokup in a video call during CES 2024, and while you may not have heard of Mijo Connected, it won't be a name on an actual product you buy in the future, that doesn't mean you should ignore it. Here's why.
Picking up the fossil where it left off
Prokup has considerable experience in the world of wearables, having worked as head of hardware at Pebble before moving to Fossil, where he served as vice president of engineering and senior vice president of connected devices. Another co-founder of Mijo Connected is Hai Nguyen, who worked at Fossil in product management and research and development projects. As Prokup told me, it's no surprise that the company maintains its connection to Fossil.
“We're not part of Fossil. But we're following a similar path and accessing some fossil technologies,” he added, unable to elaborate further on what that means. However, it's a strong indication of how seriously Mijo Connected is taking smartwatches, as the long-running watch And it makes perfect sense to continually improve the smartwatch maker experience.
So, what is Mijo Connect and why should you care? Some of the most familiar fashion and luxury brands are planning to eventually create a wearable device platform that puts their names on it, allowing them to unveil desirable, unique and fashionable smartwatches that have the right technology and software to back up the looks.
If that sounds like a familiar strategy, how Fossil introduced smartwatches with partner brands like Diesel, Kate Spade and Skagen is no different. However, it has recently backed away from such efforts, and the Mijo Connected is primed to fill that niche.
Smartwatches for fashion and luxury brands
“Our platform enables us to quickly introduce completely different products to our customers. So, for example, a brand wants to introduce a smartwatch. They don't want some generic app — it has to be their name. It has to have their branding, their style. It's the same thing with a watch, right? It's It has to look like a specific company watch, and that's what our site does,” Prokup explained.
“The base platform has a completely unique ID, so the look of the watch, the watch case, the strap, everything is completely designed. [the brand] Because they usually have great design teams who know how to execute their brand's style. Same thing with apps and data in the cloud. He continued.
Mijo Connected will bring its industry expertise to brands that want to launch smartwatches (and, in the future, other connected mobile devices like wireless earbuds and smart speakers), but don't want to invest in building partnerships with software companies, manufacturers and companies. Learning the hard way how to make a product that is representative of the brand. Instead of doing all this, the Mijo Connected will bring with it a huge amount of customization, according to Prokup:
“We have a very similar approach to how traditional watches are made, where the movement is wrapped in different designs and different watch cases. Let's go for a premium titanium case, put a pavé. [a reference to jewels set into a bezel or case] On top of that, or go for stainless steel and other alloys, or plastic. If someone wants a low-cost plastic case with a silicone strap, that too is available from our platform,” he explained.
The level of customization and personalization offered speaks volumes for Mijo Connected working with fashion and luxury brands, including some luxury brands that have already launched smartwatches in the past. But what about the software running on these new smartwatches?
What about software?
At CES, Mijo Connected launched its smartwatch platform with the software company MicroEJ (pronounced MicroEdge) and revealed that it will use MicroEJ's Vee Wear platform in the future. Even if the name isn't immediately familiar to you, chances are you've already used MicroEJ's platform that powers the smartwatches Polar has developed over the past few years.
I also spoke with MicroEJ's Chief Product and Strategy Officer Semir Haddad during CES 2024. He talked about the importance of complete customization on the software side as well, so brands can make the device their own. He also revealed that one of the company's strengths is how its technology makes it easy for Wear OS apps to run on a non-Wear OS smartwatch. It's already working with different names, and it's partnered with Facer Apps to offer different watch faces.
Vee Wear has lower power requirements, but that doesn't compromise performance. Both of these are long-standing issues with low-cost smartwatches that may have put off some fashion brands in the past. Vee Wear smartwatches work with both Android and iOS phones, offering more flexibility. Does this mean Mijo Connected doesn't offer an option for a Wear OS smartwatch and only works with MicroEJ?
“MicroEJ is a great partner, but we have a platform for the RTOS watch, as well as a platform we're working on for Wear OS,” Prokup said. A selection of software options shows how it covers all smartwatch customization needs outside of physical design.
When will the watches arrive?
Smartwatches at the moment are really dominated by three main models – Apple Watch Series 9, Google Pixel Watch 2 and Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 – all of which are great, but not always for someone who likes traditional watches or fashion watches. . The Mijo Connected is exciting because it works to fill a gap in the market partially left open by Fossil, a brand that wants to create a smartwatch without having to go all out and become a tech giant.
The company may be new, but it brings considerable experience — and probably already has a good idea of what works and what doesn't when it comes to creating a branded smartwatch. That should give confidence to companies that have avoided bundled production in the past.
So, when does Prokup expect the first models to arrive?
“We don't have release dates locked in, but you know, at this point, [the fourth quarter] Big for everyone,” Prokup pointed out before adding: “We're working on a big launch with a brand.”
Mijo Connected will most likely be the company behind Smartwatches and that's not a name you'd hear unless you're “in the know.” But Prokup also noted that it may have a minor product launch at some point, even if it's not in the Mijo Connected name.
This will give a better idea of what to expect from its smartwatches in the future and how transformative they might be. This also happens in an industry currently dominated by a select few technology brands that have historically not catered well to fashion and watchmakers. If all goes the way Mijo Connect hopes, it will change the smartwatch market forever.