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Put a (Smart) Ring On It: Nod Introduces an Input Device for Your Finger

3 minute read

At the moment, the gadget world is giddy over devices you can strap to your wrist. But a startup named Nod Labs is announcing something altogether different: a gizmo you can slip on your finger. Like the company, it’s called Nod, and it’s designed to bring precise gesture control to TVs, phones, tablets and even smartwatches.

Nod is water- and dust-resistant and will be available in four sizes, each of which can take three adjustable inserts to assure a good fit. It has built-in Bluetooth LE and sensors, letting it track your hand movement and even tell how many fingers you’re sticking out. You can also tap it to perform the equivalent of pushing a button on a more conventional input device. Basically, it’s a little like a Wii remote shrunk down to ring size. (Its silhouette looks a bit like a chef’s hat, with the electronics up top; it’s chunkier than a ring of the ordinary sort, but not overwhelmingly gigantic.)

With Nod on your finger, you’ll be able to jab your finger in the air to do stuff like play a game or select items in a smart TV’s user interface. Nod Labs has also created a Swype-like gesture keyboard that hardware and software companies can build into their products; it lets you wiggle your finger around to enter characters more quickly than you can manage with a typical remote control.

That’s assuming your stuff supports Nod–something the company says is easy for developers to do with a few lines of code. It’s got an Android app that supports the ring at the operating-system level and an iOS app with a more limited set of features. It’s also done things such as show how a Nod could be used to do text input on a Samsung Gear smartwatch.

Nod is now available for pre-order for $149, but won’t ship until the fall, so its creators have time to line up more of the kind of device support that’ll be necessary to enable its vision of a world in which you can wear the ring all day long and interact with devices all around you. And oh yeah, there’s the matter of battery life: The company says the ring will run for one day on a charge, which means that owners won’t be able to stick it on and forget it. (It will come with a charging box.)

Unless $149 means nothing to you, I don’t see how ordering this gadget right now could make sense. You’d want to wait and see what it works with when it ships months from now, and what the first people who try it have to say about the experience. (The company stopped by recently to show off their creation and gave me a demo–but didn’t suggest that I try it myself. Make of that what you will.)

See below for Nod Labs’ video showing off some of the ring’s tricks.

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