One of the most exciting products launched at the UK’s first Wearable Technology Expo in London last month, was a range of smartphone enabled ‘touch jewellery.’
Created by Yorkshire based business Kiroco, the company and its products attracted considerable interest from attendees and won the coveted ‘Best Innovation of the Year Award’ at the event.
The technology behind the jewellery, (dubbed “Kiroco Touch’) requires an NFC enabled smartphone to work. Touching the phone and the jewellery together, unlocks personal, private messages, sent to the device by the giver.
The jewellery is registered with an Android smartphone app, that allows the connection between the sender and wearer to be updated. Messages can be sent as text, audio, or video and can continue gifting to the wearer, for as long as they possess the jewellery. Kiroco calls this connection ‘Emotional Technology.’
Some possible uses that Kiroco envisages for its jewellery are:
- A wedding day gift, that when touched to a smartphone, plays a video of the wearer’s fiancé saying “I love you so much and I can’t wait to see you at the altar.”
- A child sending a special message and photo to their parent on their birthday.
- A cancer victim being able to put messages, photos and video’s into an item of jewellery, gifted to a loved one on a specified birthday.
- A business communicating important personal messages to clients.
- Festival-goers receiving promotional offers, access to various stages and performances and site specific information, whilst at an event.
Beautiful Wearable’s or Abandoned Silicon Valley Accessories?
What makes Kiroco amongst the more interesting entrants to today’s wearable device market is that they are first and foremost Jewellery designers. Because of this, they approach the technology from a craft-based perspective. They understand that aesthetics, beauty, intimacy, emotion and friendship, are key qualities required by any computing technology worn close to the body.
Many of the wearables seen so far, have lacked some of these attributes. Sonny Vu, CEO of Misfit, creators of the Misfit Shine activity tracker, said in a recent interview with this site, that many wearable devices look ‘like items designed by men in Silicon Valley, for use by men in Silicon Valley.’
Vu is speaking to one of the issues currently hampering the early adoption of wearables, namely; a general lack of aesthetic awareness and excellence from their designers.
Whilst aesthetics are not the sole factor hampering the early adoption of wearable devices, they do have an important role to play. Items worn on the body, clearly have a much greater need for genuine beauty and comfort than desk-based, or handheld computers.
Interestingly, a recent piece in the Guardian, noted that, one-third of American consumers who have owned wearable products, have stopped using them within six months of purchase.
Hiding the Computer
One of the key differences between wearables and traditional computers, is that they have their computing power hidden inside of other objects. They are not computers in the way that we normally understand them. They are computers, designed to be worn.
Until wearables begin to be truly wearable and to look and feel as good as the analogue counterparts they seek to usurp, their additional utility and computing power, may well be overlooked.
Kiroco understands this. Which is why their product currently stands out in a sea of ‘me too’ activity trackers and clunky headwear.