'90s wonder Lycos launches wearables for Android security

Lycos' wristband and ring are designed around NFC communication and secure passwords.

Lycos Android security wearables smartwatch

Lycos, the search engine and Web portal that enjoyed some success before Google came along and wiped the floor with everyone, is getting into the wearables business with a smart watch and ring.

The two products are sold under the Lycos Life brand and are rather creatively called the Band and the Ring. They are being pitched first and foremost as a replacement for passwords, using near-field communications (NFC) to unlock your phone when they are within range. One problem: Apple doesn't support NFC, so it won't do iPhone users much good.

The Band also acts as a fitness monitor, sleep tracker, and alarm, and uses the Tap 2 Transfer protocol to exchange contact information, exchange business cards with potential clients, or share an address to launch directions to a restaurant. They have no buttons and are managed by an Android app called Lycos Life. I guess they've written off the Apple market. Not a good way to start.

On a more interesting and perhaps useful note, Lycos is also starting something called the Lycos Life Project, a not-for-profit organization to provide free water and air quality sensors to households in developing countries to alert them of bad air or water. Five percent of sales from the two devices will go to fund the project.

The Band sells for $124.99, and the Ring sells for $59.99. They come in six different colors and are available directly from Lycos's online store.

This is a really odd announcement from Lycos because I'm not sure how it gets people using its portal. One would think a device would connect back to the search engine the way Windows Phone and Surface use Bing.

Lycos itself has been passed around from one owner to the next. It had a massive IPO in 1996 before being acquired by the Internet division of the Spanish telecommunications giant Telefónica, but only four years later Lycos was sold to the Korea-based Daum Communications Corp. Pieces of the company were then sold off bit by bit. Wired News (which I worked for as a freelancer) was sold back to Wired. Quote.com and RagingBull.com were sold to FT Interactive Data Corp., and Matchmaker.com was sold to Date.com.

In 2010, Daum sold Lycos as part of a restructuring to an India-based marketing company called Ybrant Digital, which is its current owner. For now.

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