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Wearable Tech

Lycos wants to manage your password security on rings and fitness bands

The company that had a search engine in the '90s plunges into wearable security and fitness. Do you trust them to manage your passwords on a Lycos Life Band or Ring?

Lycos has an announcement to make in wearables: ring, band, health sensors? Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET

Remember Lycos? They had a search engine back in the days when Bill Clinton was president. The website's still alive: it's a hub of various Web and entertainment news. And now, Lycos aims to be yet another company diving into the wearable ocean.

Lycos isn't really the Lycos of years ago: it's really Ybrant Digital, a global marketing company based in 24 countries that acquired Boston-based Lycos back in 2010. Lycos is part of that, but it's hard to tell where Lycos ends and Ybrant begins.

The Lycos Band and Lycos Ring, $125 and $60 respectively, were announced Thursday via a mysterious webcast: they're a fitness band and a smart ring.

They look like the fitness bands and smart rings I've seen before. Both come equipped with near-field communication, or NFC, for tap-to-transfer functions on phones running Google's Android operating system. You could, for example, tap your Band to transfer a contact to a friend's phone (although, why you wouldn't just do that from phone to phone begs asking).

The Lycos Band looks is a fitness tracker with heart rate, step-counting and automatic sleep tracking, with an OLED display and a promised 12-14 day battery life. It also has personal security elements: it can manage your passwords via a Lycos Life app and be used to unlock your phone.

The Ring only has security and tap-to-transfer features: it doesn't even have a battery, just built-in NFC chips that store data.

"The Ring," as listed on Lycos' website. Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET

Lycos also announced a Lycos Life Project, where 5 percent of sales of these devices and future Lycos gadgets will be used to give people in pre-selected global regions free sensors to measure air and water quality, recording data that will supposedly be shared to build a database to help humanity.

That humanitarian mission is really hard to vet: just know that Lycos, at its self-proclaimed heart, is a global marketing company. Take that as you will.