Smart rings – The future digital ringleaders?


Across the world, researchers are exploring new ways to create the next generation of wearables – smart rings.

A small band wrapped around a finger may seem underwhelming at first, especially since smart watches are just only coming to market, but great things come in small packages. From how we unlock phones and doors, to how we store sensitive data and interact with screens, smart rings may change the game completely. These new technologies have secured some serious money through crowdfunded initiatives and have attracted some interest from consumers already.

Three developments to watch out for:

1. NFC Ring
Created in the UK by John McLear, this incorporates the use of passive Near Field Communications (NFC) Technology to unlock phones, doors, turn wifi on/off and transfer information. There is also a secondary NFC tag inlay in the ring to store sensitive information. The use of passive tags is more secure (read-only data and accessible only at close range e.g. 4cm), water resistant and doesn’t require any power. NFC is already widely used across multiple industries e.g. contactless payments through PayPass, tapping on/off at train stations etc. NFC Ring has already raised £241, 947.

A demonstration of using a NFC ring to lock/unlock your phone

2. Ringly
Created in the USA by Christina Mercando, in collaboration with designers and engineers in MIT, Ringly allows you to receive notifications for messages and missed communitications (even when the phone is out of reach). The ring can be charged in the Ringly case and this will be required every 2-3 days. Out of all the smart rings, this is perhaps the most stylish ring and offers consumers a wide choice of ring designs and specifications. So far, Ringly has raised $5.1 million in funding.

3. Ring Zero
Created in Japan by Takuro Yoshida and launched recently. This ring, using bluetooth technology, allows users to use hand gestures to complete actions like the following from a distance of 2-15 metres.
– Flip presentation slides without a remote
– Open/Close doors (including garage doors)
– Turn lights on and off
– Write text on screens.
This initiative has so far raised $900,000 and has an active community of users who provide feedback to the creators to continuously improve the look, design and usability of the ring.

New technologies can provide new ways for criminals to steal information and commit fraud. They can also provide added layers to increase the security of existing  technologies. This all depends on the implementation of the technology and the security awareness of the users.