Can these wearables teach you to move like a dancer?

Don't dismiss these bands as just another gaming peripheral. Atomic Bands want to become the Duolingo of dance and martial arts education.

Seamus Byrne Editor, Australia & Asia
Seamus Byrne is CNET's Editor for Australia and Asia. At other times he'll be found messing with apps, watching TV, building LEGO, and rolling dice. Preferably all at the same time.
Seamus Byrne
2 min read

"This isn't a dance game where you learn a routine," says Rosa Mei, founder of Funkybots. "We're building a library of moves so you can learn to move like a dancer, not just learn to copy their moves."

Mei is telling me about her new motion gaming wearable Atomic Bands, but to explain her mission she first has to explain what these wearables are not. Not just another basic accelerometer wearable, not just another motion interface for video games .

Here's the quick version: Atomic Bands are a pair of wearables, worn on the wrists or ankles, that aim to accurately approximate full skeletal body tracking. They have haptic feedback, OLED displays and LED lighting to give a variety of feedback points as part of dance, martial arts and fitness focused gameplay.

Funkybots Atomic Bands

Street dancers are helping Funkybots to build dance games that really teach you how to move.

Josh Miller

Atomic Bands have an eye catching design -- described as a yin-yang shape, with an aim to have them come together like a "Temple of Doom oracle" to make them feel fun to bring back together when you drop them back into their charger.

They could also easily be mistaken for something trying to dive in on the motion gaming peripherals market like so many others. But Mei also denies her peripherals could have a place in the emerging VR market.

"How do you learn to dance and move with a big headset covering the real world," she argues. "You need to be connected to what's around you to really move."

Atomic Bands

The hardware has a striking design -- and looks even better when the lights and OLED display spring to life.

Josh Miller

There's a real mission in Mei's efforts to truly teach people about the art of movement. As a professional dancer and martial artist who toured the world for 10 years, she wants to encourage people to become more confident in expressing themselves through movement. The passion oozes from her as she explains how much it matters, how people censor themselves as they get older -- much like we forget how to draw as freely as we once did as young children.

Her company Funkybots has been making motion games since 2014, focused on the same pillars of dance, martial arts and fitness. The iOS games have used motion tracking technology that delivered good tracking through the front-facing camera on mobile devices. But this still couldn't meet Mei's desire to get more detailed and more accurate with tracking.

Thus the Atomic Bands. If you're keen to get moving with these wearables, Funkybots is set to kick off a pre-order campaign later this month.

You can find more stories from CES at the CNET CES 2017 portal.