As the femme cousin of fitness trackers, "smart jewelry" is a product category gaining traction this year. It includes bracelets that monitor sun exposure and double as USB keys. The latest to join the ranks is Ringly, a ring with a set-in stone that's linked to your phone and alerts you to incoming calls or texts.
Ringly connects to your phone and vibrates or flashes when someone's trying to reach you, so you won't miss the call if your phone is buried deep in your purse. “I continued to miss calls and texts from my friends and family because my phone was in my purse, and I hated leaving it on the table during social outings,” Ringly founder Christina Mercando says.
Prior to founding Ringly, Mercando was vice president of product at Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake's Hunch, a social recommendation service that eBay acquired in 2011. “I just kept looking at my rings and thinking, ‘I've got to be able to put technology in here that will let me solve the problem,’” she says.
Inside each Ringly is a tiny circuit board that allows the ring to sync via Bluetooth to either an iOS or Android app. Whenever a text, call, calendar alert, or email comes in, Ringly vibrates (like a phone would). It can also react to push notifications from Instagram, Facebook, Vine, Snapchat, and more. All of this is customizable, down to the number of vibrations and the color of the stone, which could, for example, flash blue for your roommate and red for your lover.
There’s an easy argument to make against using Ringly: If the point of stashing your phone away is to be polite, then wouldn’t wearing your texts on your finger exacerbate the issue? Sure, maybe, probably. But if you're the sort of person who cares about being polite, you probably aren't terribly worried about missing a call or two, and you wouldn't buy Ringly to begin with.
Ringly's appeal--for those who'd find it appealing--is its simplicity. Many other wearables are too complicated. Take Nike’s Fuelband, which introduced a new metric (Nike Fuel) and chore (checking your Fuel) into users' lives. Until the actual iPhone of smartwatches hits the market (from Apple or otherwise), there's space for simpler designs like this, which target user pain points. Ringly doesn't aspire to be the Swiss Army knife of wrist-worn technology. It knows what it's good at.
Ringly is available in four colors, for $145 a pop (25% off retail), here.