The Nike+ Fuelband is a revolution. For whatever its faults, it’s a big step forward in a necessary idea: Health and wellness equipment can be a fashion statement. A pedometer is embarrassing beeper-era tech, but my Fuelband draws a small crowd.
Pulse, by Electricfoxy (which is itself backed by Artefact designer Jennifer Darmour), is a concept that takes over where the Fuelband left off. It’s a ring that measures your (you guessed it) pulse. It glows in one of three colors to say if you’re in, above or below your target heart rate, and it vibrates as a warning when you’re working too hard. An accompanying iPhone app can display a secondary level of workout detail, too, but aside from all this handiness, Pulse is just a good-looking accessory. Take away the fitness functions, and you still have a unique ring that deploys an LED where most would gemstones.
“Tracking and using your body data doesn’t have to be clinical, it can be beautiful and part of your lifestyle,” Darmour tells Co.Design. “I wear the ring while working out and while at work.”
That might have sounded like a sales pitch, but it’s an argument right in tune with Darmour’s core philosophies about creating wearable tech: Make it discreet, cut the geek factor and let secondary software take over the core interface leaves off. Of course, that’s easier said than done. A gadget that has to work really well while looking really good is a sort of double challenge. Today, Pulse is still in experimental prototype form. This rougher version resembles a medical device more than any fashion-forward ring, but it’s ironing out the engineering kinks for the developmental prototype (and eventual final product) to come.
And that day can’t come soon enough. Because diamonds are expensive, and what better way* to show a loved one that you can be entrusted with their heart than giving them something that literally keeps track of their heart?
*The better way is probably still the diamond, unfortunately.