Wearable technology nowadays typically focuses on two body parts — our wrists and our heads. Headsets and smartwatches have become commonplace, but a new device is threatening to rival these gadgets with its innate simplicity and astounding technology. Enter: ORII, the world's very first smart ring.
Origami Labs, based out of Hong Kong, came up with the unique and stylish device as a way to change the way people communicate. According to their website, ORII began as a project undertaken by a group of friends all studying at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in the MBA program. After many long nights spent working hard in coffee shops to create an initial prototype, the team then took to Kickstarter to fund their product and earned a total of 2.5 million in seed capital from companies around the world.
So how does this ring work?
The science behind the ORII is actually quite incredible. Using bone conductivity, the ring allows users to communicate without the use of screens or buttons. Once the ring is connected to your smartphone, you can make phone calls simply by using voice assistant technology. Press a button on the side of the ring, give a command, and you're ready to go. Simply place your fingertip to the outside of your ear canal and you'll be able to easily hear phone calls and verbally conveyed text messages.
ORII sends a series of audio signals through your fingertip, using the bones in this digit to transmit those signals to your inner ear which in turn interprets sound like it would through a regular phone. In fact, some users have claimed the sound is even better than what you might experience with a Bluetooth earpiece.
On their site, the company explains bone conduction is a natural way of hearing that we actually use every day. When we speak, our ears pick up on the sounds using the vibrations in our skulls. But apparently, there's nothing that rivals using your finger to conduct sound.
"The first time you listen to someone's voice through your finger, it's unlike anything you've ever tried before," the website claims. "People have described the experience as everything from having a voice in your head, to feeling like a spy on a mission because you can only hear it when you touch your ear. The vibrations on the finger are very light, almost like a tickle, which you get used to very quickly."
The ring isn't just for listening, though. It also contains a noise-canceling dual microphone so you can talk, dictate text messages, and use your smartphone's assistant to control your phone without having to touch it at all.
The company's CEO, Kevin Johan Wong, has explained ORII was inspired by his father, Peter, who is visually impaired and requires screen-free alternatives to regular communicative technology. Recognizing that there is an urgent need to create a device that would make technology more accessible for everyone, ORII was born.
It's worth noting that the ring, which is powered by a 50 mAh battery, is only designed for short phone calls and texts throughout the day. A full charge means one hour of listening time and 45 hours of standby time. But, that one hour translates to more than a hundred interactions to get you through the day, so as long as you aren't planning on spending some serious time on the phone, the one hour should suit users just fine.
ORII comes in ten adjustable sizes and four colors: Stardust Silver, Armor Red, Space Grey, and Dark Night. The pack includes a compact charging case and cable that is easily used with existing chargers. While it's not recommended you wear the device while swimming, it can resist immersion in one meter of water for up to 30 minutes.
If you're interested in getting your hands on this incredible technology, you're going to have to wait a little bit. The official ORII website says the company is currently out of stock but is allowing people to give their contact information so they can know right away once the product is available again.
Until then, you'll just have to stick with your regular smartphone.