Smartwatches have dominated many of the tech headlines in 2013, but a new project now counting down the final hours of a successful crowdfunding campaign promises wearable computing of a different kind.
Dubbed the “Smarty Ring,” this new device features an LED screen and is designed to be worn on the finger and to stream data from an Android or iOS mobile handset. Connectivity is provided via Bluetooth 4.0, allowing the Smarty Ring to alert the wearer to incoming calls, texts and email messages as well as real-time updates from Facebook, Twitter, Google Hangouts and Skype.
Users of the device will be able to control their phones by simply tapping on the ring, enabling them to accept or reject incoming calls, make outgoing calls to preset numbers, trigger the camera, control music and even change the profile, for example. The ring could also be used to alert wearers to a lost phone and would offer functionality to beep if the handset is more than 30 meters away.
Measuring 13mm wide and 4mm thick and promising a 24-hour battery life via a 22mAh battery, the Smarty Ring has raised more than five times its funding goal of US$40,000 on Indiegogo. Retail pricing is expected to be $275; delivery is planned for April 2014.
“We are overexcited, and we have a huge responsibility,” the team’s marketing director, who goes by the single name Karthik, told TechNewsWorld. “We will get Smarty Rings on the market soon.”
‘Price Points Can Be Lower’
The Smarty Ring’s first obstacle may now be overcome by its successful crowdfunding campaign, but that’s by no means its only challenge.
“The smart ring has the same promise and the same limitations as the smartwatch,” Roger Entner, principal analyst at Recon Analytics, told TechNewsWorld.
The biggest advantage could be that “it would be a much stronger device if it would work independently and be voice-centric,” Entner added. “They need to focus on the strengths of the device — mobility — not on the weakness,” including its lack of screen size.
Cost, however, could be one feature working in its favor, Chris Silva, research director for mobile and client computing at Gartner, told TechNewsWorld.
“The differentiator seems to be that price points can be lower for a single-purpose device,” Silva explained.
Moreover, “if the design allows for features to be added or changed via software updates, that’s an interesting incremental revenue model over the life of the device,” Silva added.
‘A Big Product Category’
A smart ring is “less intrusive and can be worn with a stylish, high-end watch,” Steve Blum, principal analyst with Tellus Venture Associates, told TechNewsWorld.
“Jewelry is about projecting an appearance, not about functionality, so people might prefer a bling watch over a geeky one, but still be interested in a wearable smartphone peripheral,” he added.
“Of course, there’s the same potential objection to a geeky-looking ring, but it’s another option,” Blum suggested. “Expect to see a lot of different ideas for wearable smartphone peripherals. We’re at the very beginning of what will become a big product category once form factors, functionality and consumer acceptance are figured out.”