Over at Wired, Liz Stinson profiles a tech-infused ring -- called Ringly -- that looks like costume jewelry (I only know what "costume jewelry" means after being with my wife for a decade). This ring sports a Bluetooth chipset, however, and pairs with your phone to discreetly alert you to calls, text messages, email and other notifications that'd otherwise steal your attention away. You can customize the alerts as one of four vibration patterns or one of five different colors.
Speaking to the ring's creator, Christina Mercando, Stinson's piece contains a quote that pretty much perfectly sums up what's going on here:
“The fashion world is blown away; they can’t believe something like this exists,” says Mercando. “And the technology world is like, is that all it does?”
People who have been writing about gadgets for more than a couple years will instantly recall HTC's Rhyme smartphone, a device awkwardly marketed to women by way of a little cube-shaped charm that plugged into the headphone jack and lit up when calls and texts came through. The idea was apparently that you could leave your phone in your purse, and stretch the charm outside your purse so you could see if someone was trying to get a hold of you. Our own Jared Newman took two for the team, first writing about the phone and then reviewing it.
While Rhyme sales probably didn't make HTC's year in 2011, Ringly might have a shot. For starters, the ring itself will cost almost as much as an on-contract smartphone -- just shy of $200 at retail, though pre-orders are going for $145. So it's already a luxury item: It's available in a handful of different designs and contains 18-karat gold.
More importantly, it doesn't look like a ridiculous gadget you strap on your body somewhere. I showed a picture of one of the rings to my wife, who immediately identified it as costume jewelry, not some newfangled wearable device housing a power-sipping Bluetooth Low Energy chip. Big points for hiding the technology.
So would she wear one? "I would wear it as costume jewelry when going out, sure." Would she pay $200 for it? "I wouldn't spend $200 on costume jewelry. A lot of people do, though."
If you're going to pay $200 for an oversized ring, why not buy one that pairs with your phone, right?