A one-year-old startup called Caeden, which has until this point been selling sleek headphones and ear buds, has raised $1.6 million in funding to bring to market a screenless leather wristband equipped for health monitoring.
Among Caeden's investors are the Chinese incubator Innovation Works, Rock Health, Brand Foundry Ventures and Cherubic Ventures. The device will go on pre-order in a few months — Caeden co-founder and CEO Nora Levinson declined to get into specifics on its full capabilities until it does — but from the mock-ups, it looks pretty good, not unlike something Michael Kors or Fossil might make. Levinson says that the team works as much from a design perspective as from a technical one, creating individual prototypes focused on look, feel and function and iterating until those three goals were combined in one device.
Given Levinson's resume, it's not hard to see how she wound up at Caeden. After studying mechanical engineering and product design at Stanford, she logged time at Jawbone and Skullcandy, then started a phone and laptop case company called Adopted, which sold its products at Barneys and Apple stores. Two years later, in 2014, she launched Caeden with co-founder David Watkins. Although the startup initially focused on establishing its brand via sleek headphones and ear buds, Levinson says the team was always planning on getting into other wearable devices.
As for the Apple Watch? It's only doing good things for the space, in Levinson's view.
"Apple entering a category legitimizes it," says Levinson. But she notes that not everyone is going to want to wear a screen on their wrist. For the time being, at least, that certainly seems to be the case.