Wearable Tech World Feature Article
December 30, 2015

OKTO Shrinks the Smart Watch Down to the Smart Ring

Remember when the high point of wearable technology was the Dick Tracy Two-Way Wrist Communicator? The idea of a phone that could be worn like a wristwatch was downright alluring, and we all felt futuristic just thinking about it. OKTO, meanwhile, is going beyond the smartwatchphone and has developed an even less obtrusive piece of tech-savvy jewelry: a smart ring.

It's not the first one revealed so far; reports suggest Apple is hard at work on an iRing, and several others are in play ranging from Ringly to NFC Ring. Most of these, however, are designed more as a peripheral for smartphones, almost in the same manner a smartwatch is. OKTO, meanwhile, is going farther than that with a device that can accommodate voice functionality right in the ring itself. This is said to be similar to a project in development at Google, part of a three prototype system that includes a headset that works only on audio.

OKTO works comparatively simply, with users simply holding a hand to an ear to listen, and while the hand is up to the side of the head, users simply speak to respond to what's heard. The system contains a speaker and a microphone in a very small space, and even offers vibration to serve as notification. While OKTO can work on its own, it can also work with smartwatches to produce new effects. Users can effectively dial a call on a smartwatch, and then speak through the OKTO ring.

The OKTO device itself is waterproof—though to what depth isn't noted—and comes in a range of sizes to accommodate multiple finger sizes. It's Bluetooth 4.0 compatible, and offers four hours of talk time on one charge, which takes just 30 minutes to complete. The device will be shown off for the first time at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show (CES) event in Las Vegas, so those interested will be able to get a full look at it there.

While some may fault the OKTO for its usefulness, or possible lack thereof—why buy a ring to replace holding a smartphone to your head, when you still have to hold the ring to your head to get anywhere with it—it's what it represents that's particularly noteworthy. The OKTO is part of a growing trend, accessories that not only look nice—and the OKTO certainly looks sharp if somewhat minimalist—but also serve useful functions. The OKTO is certainly useful, even if some may not see the value, so the OKTO becomes a true piece of wearable tech, both technologically capable and aesthetically pleasing enough to be wearable.

The OKTO ring won't appeal to every user, but for users looking to make fashion technologically-savvy and useful as well, it might well be just the piece of a particular ensemble that's been missing before. It might also be a worthwhile competitor to the other smart rings on the way.

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere

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