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Mark Long thinks we take out our smartphones too many times per day, and now he’s come up with a solution to fix that problem.

The former Meteor Entertainment CEO and 20-year-plus veteran of the video games business has started a new Seattle-based company called Uno that is preparing to launch a $99 wearable wristband that uses Spritz, a reading compression technology. (Update, Dec. 8: The Indiegogo campaign page is now live, with a $50,000 goal)

Mark Long.
Mark Long.

The Uno Noteband is a wearable that’s focused on notifications. It displays messages from incoming calls, texts, emails, calendar reminders, Facebook, and Twitter.

But what sets it apart is Spritz, which shows text in one-word increments in rapid succession. The idea is to help people focus on something Spritz calls the “Optimal Recognition Point” in each word, allowing users to read sentences faster than they would with traditional methods.

“When reading, only around 20 percent of your time is spent processing content,” Spritz notes on its website. “The remaining 80 percent is spent physically moving your eyes from word to word and scanning for the next ORP. With Spritz we help you get all that time back.”

Here’s a video explaining the technology:

Long, who also founded Zombie Studios in 1994 and ran the game company for nearly two decades, was first introduced to Spritz after his friend invested in the Boston-based startup. He instantly knew that it could be a game-changer in the wearable space.

“Spritz inspired me to create a wearable that could deliver information at a glance and still look great,” he told GeekWire.

Long is well aware of the hundreds of other wearable devices on the market today. In fact, he’s spent the past year testing every tracker, band, and smartwatch he can find.

UNO_1536Each device has been “neat,” Long said, but they didn’t provide much benefit beyond displaying notifications — and that’s exactly what Uno is all about.

“I’m already hooked on anything ‘glanceable,’ and that’s Uno’s core strength,” he explained. “And with Spritz, it does it better than any wearable being offered.”

An accompanying smartphone app lets you adjust the numbers of words per minute displayed on the Uno device — anywhere from 250 to 1,000 words-per-minute. While Uno helps you see messages, it is read-only and purely for notifications — if you want to send a response or interact with an app, you need to pull out your smartphone.

Unsurprisingly, given Long’s experience in the gaming industry, Uno has another unique feature that lets gamers see notifications — friend messages, game alerts, invitations, etc. — from Xbox Live, Playstation Network, and Steam. The device, which runs “for days” on a single charge, is also a fitness tracker and works with apps like Apple Health or Google Fit that monitor steps, calories, and sleep.

Working on a wearable device has certainly been a change for Long, especially when it comes to manufacturing a physical product.

“Hardware is hard,” he noted. “It’s a million little details that you have to get exactly right. Unlike a game, you can’t patch it after it ships.”

Long’s company employs five and is bootstrapped for now. The plan is to launch a crowdfunding campaign for the Uno Noteband early next month. We’ll update this post with a link to the Indiegogo page once it’s live.

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