A new “smart ring” aims to combine useful technology with fashion. Whether it does so is largely a matter of taste.
Ringly is a simple enough concept: it connects via Bluetooth to an iPhone or Android handset, then either emits a colored light, vibrates, or both, to signify a particular event. The visual alerts come from a small light to the side of the casing, rather than the stone itself glowing or changing color. (For the first 1,000 units, this light will shine through a tiny diamond.)
There’s a total of five possible colors for the light and four vibration patterns and it appears you can combine the two to make 20 different alerts, though you’d need a good memory to keep track of that many. Using an accompanying app you can assign each alert to both an application (including the default iPhone functions and third party apps such as Twitter) and a specific action within that app. For example, you can set up individual alerts for calls or texts from specific contacts. The ring works by hooking up to the phone’s notifications tool.
The ring itself isn’t exactly high-end jewelry. It’s got an 18 karat gold plating, though its only three microns thick. There’s also a fairly chunky stone, which is large enough to house the electronics. The design is virtually identical across the range, but you can choose the stone material from emerald, black onyx, pink sapphire or something called a rainbow moonstone. The ring is $145 plus taxes and shipping, or $180 plus taxes and shipping if you get the emerald option.
It appears the designers have made the best of the technical limitations, but the ring still has some practical issues when viewed as a piece of jewelry. Users will need to take the ring off every two to three days (depending on usage) and put it in an accompanying ringbox. The box plugs into a USB outlet (or a power adaptor) and wirelessly charges the ring.
To extend the battery life, the ring has an accelerometer and goes into sleep mode if your finger stops moving. That’s fortunate as the way the ring is made means the battery is not replaceable. It’s also not possible to resize the ring, and it’s only available in US ring sizes 6, 7 or 8 at launch.
The ring can theoretically work up to 30 feet away from your phone, though you can set up an alert if you get towards or beyond this range for a particular time period, for example because you’ve left the phone behind or it’s been stolen.