There’s something irrefutably intangible about a phone conversation — especially with a loved one. Sure, voice and video chat is good in a pinch, but there’s no replacement for more palpable signs of affection like, say, a warm embrace. Transmitting that sort of physicality over the internet is, needless to say, a tall order, but it’s nonetheless one that wearable company Touch is attempting to fill with the HB Ring, a “smart wedding band” that transmits the rhythm of your partner’s heartbeat in real time.
Touch boldly proclaims that the HB Ring, the result of two and a half years of development, is “the most sophisticated ring the world.” It packs “over 100” components — chiefly a battery, a circular LED array, a charging connector, and a “multidimensional” motherboard — and its round frame is crafted from a band of stainless steel with “the most wear-resistant coating out there.” That same craft extends to the HB Ring’s unibody, a molded block of sapphire crystal “harder than conventional gold” — the largest exposed scratch- and water-resistant sapphire surface on any ring on the market, Touch claims.
The HB Ring’s headlining feature is “heartbeat sharing” — a little tap on your ring that sends your heart muscle’s dilations and contractions to a loved one. They’re managed through a companion smartphone app, and setup is as simple as it gets. Once the app’s been downloaded and the ring paired, you add your loved one’s profile, and after that’s done, you’re free to send biological beats to your heart’s content.
The app is otherwise bare bones, but can perform basic management — you can view the ring’s battery level, for example, and toggle its connectivity. It’s available for iOS in beta, with an Andoid version due out later this year.
True to the HB Ring’s luxury image, it commands a premium price tag. Touch is selling it in pairs: two stainless steel and sapphire crystal models will set you back a collective $600, while the 18K rose gold variants of the ring starts at $3,000. Both are relatively compact — 3.8mm thick and 12.1mm wide, respectively — and come in six sizes: 16mm, 17mm, 18mm, 19mm, 20mm, and 21mm. And the rings ships with what Touch calls “the most exquisite charger for any wearable in the world” –a “Piano Black” charger box with soft white inner padding.
Pre-orders began on August 2, and the HB Rings begin shipping this year — the 18k gold model in November, and the standard version in December. They’re available in “limited quantities.”
If “heartbeat sharing” sounds familiar, that’s because the Apple Watch features similar functionality: Using the smartwatch’s Digital Touch app, you can send a recorded heartbeat to friends and family. But unlike the Apple Watch, HB Ring shares heartbeats in “real time.” It remains to be seen just how consistently and seamlessly it does so, of course, but for couples joined at the hip — and those who much prefer a vibrating ring to a vibrating watch — that may prove to be the deciding factor.