Wearable Tech World Feature Article
December 11, 2013

If Women Won't Buy Clunky Smart Watches, How About Smart Jewelry?

The future is here. No, we have no flying cars yet, but we now have computers that can be worn like glasses, or as wrist bands on our arms. They are wirelessly networked, loaded with apps, fast, small and able to go anywhere we would like. In the very near future, there will be a positive proliferation of them.

Analysts have predicted an explosion in the “smartwatch” market in particular. According to research on the smartwatch market from NextMarket Insights, the smartwatch market will reach a total of 15 million smartwatches shipped worldwide in 2014, up from five million this year.  Continued growth is expected to continue after that, with the market hitting nearly 37 million watches shipped in 2015, thanks to models such as Samsung’s Galaxy Gear, Sony’s Xperia S Smartwatch and the Pebble Smartwatch. But some industry insiders say the smartwatch industry has a huge challenge ahead in reaching its market potential: women.

“Will women wear smartwatches?” This is a question every smartwatch company should be asking itself. Do smartwatches go with silk blouses, couture dresses and suits or even dresses or tops designed for a night out? Not really. There are also many fashion-aware men who may not like the look of a clunky interface on the wrist, and most of the smartwatches on the market thus far are pretty clunky.

Samsung has tried to alleviate the problem, at least where women are concerned. The South Korean tech giant teamed up with designer Dana Lorenz to create a line of jewelry meant to accompany the Galaxy Gear smartwatch, and includes spiky metal charms that can attach to the watch's strap. In the future, the company has hinted that the Gear’s bands might be customizable.

But that still begs the question: even if they are more streamlined, will women wear smartwatches? Maybe or maybe not, but they might wear smart jewelry, and there are some women already working on these designs. One of them is Ringly, a “smart ring” that contains as accelerometer, Bluetooth LE, a motor, and tiny LEDs. The goal is to pair it with a smartphone so it can alert the wearer in a very subtle way that a text message or other communication has arrived on the phone. The company, which raised $1 million in equity in September and is operating in pre-launch “stealth” mode, says the device was designed with looks in mine first and foremost.

Another female-aimed smart device might be the “smart bangle” from MEMI, which works much like Ringly. The Bluetooth device has no screen like a smartwatch does, but it can be customized so wearers receive alerts from only certain individuals. MEMI has three distinct vibrations that are assigned for different types of alerts, which users can silence by double tapping the bracelet, according to Fast Company.

So will the future bring us a piece of smart jewelry that does more than just alert us and send us diving for our mobile devices? Maybe. Perhaps in the near future we’ll start to see tiny beautifully designed “smart brooches” with small screens that the wearer can pin to their garments, or “smart necklaces” with a teeny, tiny screen that can hang around one’s neck.

Furthering the wearable technology sector is this week’s Wearable Tech Expo, taking place at the Hilton Los Angeles/University City. The event will showcase a discussion on the topic of wearable fashion, in which participants will learn how fashion has become a driving force behind a variety of wearable technologies, including devices and even “smart cloth.” Participants to the event, led by wearable technology fashion pioneer Syuzi Pakhchyan, will learn how devices and sensors interact with and become a part of the “fashion” itself. The session will take place today, Wednesday, December 11, from 10:50 to 11:35 am PT. 

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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