Wearable Tech Startup: Meet Olio

Wearable Tech Startup: Meet Olio

This connected timepiece is not only good looking and smart–but comes complete with a cloud-based personal assistant. We spoke with Steve Jacobs, CEO & co-founder at Olio Devices, who filled us in on their company and products.

Describe Olio Devices.

Olio Devices is a boutique brand that aims to blend intelligent connectivity, uncompromised quality, and enduring style into personalized premium products that improve users’ lives by saving them time.

What was the inspiration behind starting Olio Devices?

I spent years working on hardware products at top tech companies such as Apple, Google, and HP, but quickly realized that these larger organizations could not compete in what I saw as a greenfield market opportunity: beautifully designed fashion products that people already love fused with meaningful technology that makes users modern lives easier. [Editor’s note: That’s the sweet spot for sure!] Aiming to fill the gap in what was missing in the connected device market, I co-founded Olio Devices and launched our first product–the luxury connected timepiece Olio Model One, in March 2015.

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Tell us about the Olio Model One.

The Olio Model One was built around three main pillars: freedom, craftsmanship and saving time. First, Olio gives users the freedom to choose. Users can select from a variety of colors and materials, all of which are compatible with both Android and iOS devices. No longer do our customers have to choose their style based on the technology they use. Users are also free from ephemeral technology captivity. The Model One receives frequent software updates over the air and, just like traditional watches, can be serviced to maintain peak performance for years to come. Plus, each timepiece is water-resistant up to 50M, dust-proof, and impact, scratch and shock resistant, so it can keep up with even the most adventurous lifestyles – and look good doing it.

Users can select from a variety of genuine Italian leather bands or choose a metal link bracelet to match their case, and each collection features a bespoke watch face that is meticulously designed to match that collection’s material. The subtle hues of each watch face change dynamically with the time of day to be brighter in the morning and warmer in the evening. In addition, each design changes based on individual user activity, so no two watch faces will ever look the same.  

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What sets the Model One apart from other wearables in the space?

Unlike most smartwatches today that act as a mini smartphone on the wrist, the Model One was borne of a complete reimagination of what technology on a watch should be. Rather than digging through apps, the Model One proactively presents users with small bits of useful information that they can absorb with a single glance or act on with a single swipe. The Model One has evolved the traditional watches purpose of telling time and addresses the modern need to save time. This is done through Olio Assist, a cloud-based personal assistant that learns users behaviors and preferences, considers a user’s current context, and presents you with personal, contextual, time saving suggestions.

For example, an Olio user might start their morning by glancing at their Model One’s watchface for an instant summary of the day’s weather or their upcoming schedule. As they walk into their first meeting, Olio Assist may prompt them to hold their calls and texts for the duration of the meeting. When the meeting is over, Olio Assist will remind them to reply to the messages they missed. Olio’s auto reply function will keep users safe during their drive home by allowing them to focus their attention on the road, and when they reach home they can turn on the lights and play music with the swipe of a finger. And just like any good assistant, Olio Assist continuously learns and improves over time.

A beautiful fusion of form and function, we designed the Model One to organize and curate users increasingly hectic digital lives so that they can save time and focus on what really matters.

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What has been one of the most challenging parts of getting started? How did you overcome this and what did you learn?

Breaking into an industry that’s dominated by a sea of “Goliaths” is tough. Our biggest challenge was building a brand that customers can trust, without the name recognition of an Apple or Google. To gain this trust, we worked to ensure we not only shipped a great product, but created a killer support system. Our customer Facebook page is incredibly active, and we love hearing real-time feedback – we take every comment into consideration when making updates to the product. Plus, our support team is available nearly 24/7 to address any customer questions or complaints – customers can even reach them on their personal cell phones!

I also helped the team develop comprehensive training videos on our website, and set up a training program for Nordstrom employees selling the watch. I’m hopeful that these customer experience ideas will allow our customers to easily get the most out of their Model Ones, so they can start enjoying them straight out of the box.

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Where can we buy your products and what is the cost?

Limited batches of the black, steel, gold and rose gold Model Ones are available for purchase on Olio’s and Nordstrom’s websites, as well as in select Nordstrom retail locations and luxury jewelry boutiques. Model Ones range from $595 to $1395.

What can we expect next from Olio?

Our team is continuing to work to create powerful – and beautiful – products that can blend seamlessly into our everyday lives and save people time. Right now, we’re heads down developing something we’re super excited about, so stay tuned for news on that!

Learn more about Olio by visiting their website and watching the video below.

Third Wave Fashion has been your fashion tech think tank since 2011. We publish the first ever printed fashion tech magazine, Third Wave. Follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our newsletter to stay on top of the latest in fashion tech + wearables.