While the big wigs run around making one-size-fits-all fitness bands and smartwatches — most of which are not female friendly — innovators on Kickstarter are leading the charge for smart jewelry. Ear-o-Smart is the latest startup to make a splash on the crowd-funding site with a piece of intriguing smart jewelry.
The Ear-o-Smart is a pair of smart earrings that connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth to monitor your heart rate, calories, and activity levels. Ear-o-Smart’s studs are remarkably small and actually look like a normal pair of earrings, in spite of all the sensors inside. Using the same PPG (photoplethysmogram) technology seen in many fitness bands, the earrings take your heart rate by measuring blood flow. Essentially, light from an LED is reflected by blood flowing through your veins, and absorbed by a photodiode to determine when the heart beats.
Ravinder Saini, the President of BioSensive Technologies Inc. and the inventor of the Ear-o-Smart, says that the ear is the ideal place to monitor heart rate because there is less interference from the wearer’s movement, and quite a bit of blood flow. The Ear-o-Smart also has sensors to track activity and calorie burn, though the campaign doesn’t go into detail about those functions.
As far as batteries go, Saini says he’s got a working prototype with a coin cell battery inside, but he’s working on a version with a rechargeable battery, which would charge using a USB charging cradle. The coin cell battery will certainly last longer, but you’ll also have to replace it, which isn’t ideal. However, the rechargeable version will need to last at least eight hours on a charge.
Saini was inspired to create Ear-o-Smart after he encountered many people — especially women — who just weren’t comfortable wearing fitness bands and smartwatches, but really wanted to track their health and fitness.
“During research for my Master’s degree, I was trying to figure out a way to monitor health data in unobtrusive way,” Saini told Digital Trends via email. “I found that many people were not comfortable with wearing smart watches or wrist bands and moreover the wrist is not the best spot to get heart rate data. Physicians have been using earlobe based monitors from long time, so it was just the matter of scaling down the device so that we can embed it into earrings.”
He says the problem with most wearables that are “for women” is that the manufacturers don’t actually design the products with women in mind. They “just try to paint ‘ugly design’ with pink or purple color. (Design) is our first step in providing something which customers would love to wear,” Saini said. “Smart jewelry is the future of wearable technology.”
As such, Saini designed the Ear-o-Smart to look like a normal pair of stud earrings. Based on the pictures on the website, the earrings are no bigger than your average chunky stud earrings. Those who contribute $125 or $150 to the project will get a pair of white Ear-o-Smart earrings that are already built, but if you want to immerse yourself in the technology or just get creative with your earrings, you can order a DIY kit for $150.
“We believe that users should be able to customize the earring with their outfits. Moreover, we don’t want to limit these smart earring to one design or color so that people can create their own unique designs,” Saini explained. “With our DIY kit, we will ship a stainless surgical post and one cover, so users can buy gems or stones to match their personality. This modular kit will not only eliminate the need to buy 12 different sets of smart earrings to match with your outfits, but would also let users create their own unique designs.”
Of course, if Ear-o-Smart makes it off the ground, Saini says he’ll offer more options and different gems for the earrings. For now, though, he’s keeping it simple. Saini expects to ship the finished product to backers by June 2015, so you’re in for a long wait if you help fund the project.