While wearables like fitness trackers and smartwatches edge their way toward the mainstream, smart rings might be next in line. These bits of connected jewelry allow consumers to control gadgets with gestures, and even check smartphone notifications from the same tiny plot of hand real estate that might house a wedding ring.
Many manufacturers have taken to the crowded pages of Kickstarter and Indiegogo in the hopes of officially taking their rings from prototype to mass production, but none have actually come to fruition. Below is a brief roundup of some of the most promising, intriguing, and just plain weird smart rings around — just don’t count on any of them to hit their tentative release dates.
Update on 6-12-15 by Brandon Widder: It appears as though one of our previous picks for the best smart rings, the aptly-titled Smarty Ring, may never ship. The company’s official website has recently gone down and Indiegogo backers remain up in arms regarding what appears to be a fraudulent campaign. As they say, caveat emptor.
MOTA SmartRing ($100)
No ring has garnered more hype in the past six months than the MOTA SmartRing. Once you pair the subtle accessory with your Android or iOS device, it gently vibrates to notify you of incoming calls, text, emails, and more. You swipe the smartphone’s tiny screen from left to right to view the various updates, each of which is depicted with an icon and a number corresponding to the number of notifications. The battery is expected to last between 24 and 72 hours depending on usage, and moreover, will be rechargeable via a wireless charging station. You’ll also be able to customize which types of updates it displays — from Twitter to text messages — and choose from either a black or white offering.
Tentative release date: June 2015
Lackluster name aside, Ring isn’t your typical fashion accessory. A creation of Logbar Inc., the zinc-coated wearable essentially functions as a gesture-based controller, allowing you to perform a variety of actions with a simple motion of your hand. The Bluetooth-enabled device connects to a variety of devices, from your smartphone to Google Glass, providing you with a means of controlling your music, composing a tweet, checking the weather, or a slew of other actions. You can customize 23 gestures using the accompanying mobile app, and the company recently announced an upcoming hub designed to interface with home appliances. The Ring also comes in a variety of sizes, each with integrated motion sensors and a sole button for activation.
Tentative release date: TBA
Ringly may not offer an LED display, but it does offer ladies an alternative to the masculine look wearables typically veer toward. The Bluetooth ring uses four vibration patterns, rather than lights, to notify you of various events. Each ring comes adorned with a precious stone — emerald, quartz, sapphire, or moonstone — and subtly vibrates as you receive calls, texts, emails, calendar alerts, and an abundance of other notifications you would otherwise need your smartphone to view. You can customize the vibration pattern using the Android and iOS-optimized app for mobile devices, giving you greater control of which alerts you receive. Sadly, Ringly will only be available in sizes 6, 7, and 8.
Tentative release date: Spring 2015
Fin Ring ($120)
Despite its resourcefulness, the thumb is often the last place anyone intends to wear a ring. However, Fin’s forthcoming offering is specifically designed for your largest digit, letting you perform a variety of gesture-based controls via Bluetooth. Once you put the ring on, you merely need to tap your thumb against your individual finger segments, each of which functions like a hot key on a computer, performing a specified action. You could lower the volume on your HDTV, for instance, or make a call once properly paired with your smartphone. Supposedly, the oddball device will control up to three devices at once and last for up to a month on a single charge, so long as you use it no more than eight hours a day. Too bad the ring is still rather bulky.
Tentative release date: May 2015