Networked rings represent a new type of technology wearable, emerging as part of the smartphone ecosystem. At Fashion Week 2014 in New York City, Ringblingzintroduced their first ring connected to a smartphone. So what role do we see fashion accessories such as rings playing in the Networked Society?
As I outlined in my blog post on networked watches, most wearables that are connected to a smartphone and are accompanied by an app. A networked ring is a smaller notification device than the phone-watch combination and further exploits the technology miniaturization potential. The screen size takes us back to the early mobile phone days, when 20 characters were visible to the user. Vibration is a vital trigger for the user and short range radios connect the ring to your phone.
These first networked rings are targeting younger user segments. The design of the ring is a key buying criteria since it is as much a fashion statement as it is a communication device. Networked rings belong to one of the 4-5 wearable tech product categories (together with watches, activity bracelets, health monitors and life-logs) with mass market potential.
The primary applications for networked rings are social media notifications and lifestyle trackers. The differentiation in relation to watches and bracelets will be its small size and stylish look. Aggregating data from a variety of sources and screening out the most relevant is an attractive tool for reducing information overload. New smartphone generations, with larger screens, can remain the pocket or purse for basic information tracking.
My predictions for the near-term future of wearable tech are:
* All wearables will be designed as slaves to smartphones, with short haul radio, dedicated smartphone apps and motion sensors as basic ingredients.
* Wearable design will continue to grow in importance and rings are born into a fashion category from start.
* 1-2 wearable devices will gain mass market appeal in 2014, opening up for a breakthrough for networked rings.
* Use will be reactive and triggered by light buzzes, prior to watching the micro screen.