The latest in wearable tech doesn’t look much like tech at all.
Ringly is an 18k-gold plated ring that connects with a smartphone to discreetly notify the wearer when she gets a call or text.
The idea is to incorporate tech into women’s everyday accessories so that they can enjoy the moment without missing something important — even when they’re not wearing pockets or holding a bag.
“It started with me being frustrated from leaving my phone in my purse and missing a bunch of calls and texts,” Ringly cofounder Christina Mercando said to Business Insider. “It turns out a lot of other people have a similar problem.”
Ringly offers a selection of four different stones set in gold plating, which vibrate and light up when activated.
In a way, it’s the anti-Google Glass.
As they were designing Ringly, Mercando and cofounder Logan Munro wanted all of the technology — accelerometer, Bluetooth LE, motor, and LEDs — to be incorporated into the ring as discreetly as possible.
“We were going for something that was simple, classic, something that a lot of women could get behind,” she said. “It’s so small and discreet that people wouldn’t know the technology is there.”
Even those who don’t care about subtlety could make use of Ringly.
Once you connect the ring to your smartphone through the Ringly app — available for both iOS and Android — you can customise the way you want to be notified. Blinking lights and vibration patterns are adjustable, as well as which apps you want to receive notifications from.
You can even customise notifications for certain people — if you wanted, for example, to only have Ringly light up when your significant other is calling, you could do that.
To charge the ring, all you have to do is drop it back into its box.
Mercando comes from a background in computer interaction and product design. She served as head of product at machine learning startup Hunch, which was acquired by eBay in 2011, when she was introduced to Munro.
“We were both excited about wearables and the future of the space,” she said.
But it turned out that designing Ringly meant they would have to learn about a host of new techniques, including stone-cutting, sourcing, plating, and casting, among others. They have enlisted the help of jewelry designer Annie Van Harlingen to guide them through the process.
“There’s jewelry design, mechanical design, industrial design … lots of stuff to learn about,” Mercando said. “But even our engineering team loves learning about jewelry now.”
The project has come together rather quickly — Mercando quit her job to focus on Ringly in April of 2013, and by August the team had received $US1 million in funding from Mesa+, First Round Capital, PCH, and Andreessen Horowitz. They then spent four months in San Francisco working on the prototype.
Ringly launches today, with each ring costing $US145 on preorder. The price will go up to $US195 once it ships in the fall.
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