Wearable Technology Meets Luxury Jewellery

Beauty and brains

The age of wearable technology is here, and they don’t have to look like something out of a science fiction movie, as these smart accessories prove.

ECSmartJewellery_ArmillArmill – The ultra-luxe option.
When the collaborators are British men’s high jewellery brand Christophe & Co and Pininfarina, the Italian coach builder best known for defining the way Ferrari cars look, one simply knows, without having to be told, that the brainchild is going to be expensive. With a price tag ranging from US$75,000 to US$149,000 (RM308,000 to RM612,000), the Amrill bracelet has to be considered more than a mere bracelet. Its creators, in fact, claimed that it was conceived as a functional objet d’art.

Pininfarina has applied its expertise in automotive design to dream up a sleek and ergonomic form for this creation. Made slightly square to fit better on wrist, Amrill is also padded with leather-covered memory foam on the inside for more comfort to the wearer. The bracelet’s innermost structure is of carbon fibre and the outer layer, ceramic and 18-carat gold decorated with the customer’s choice of precious gems. Each bracelet can be sized to fit its owner perfectly, and also customised with hand-engravings. Probably the coolest feature would be the mini rotors that charge the batteries through the wearer’s motion, not entirely unlike the system used in automatic watches. If worn often, the Amrill may never require a wired charge.

Unfortunately, the technical specifications don’t quite match up to the sophisticated design. The Amrill isn’t the smartest bracelet one is going to find; it doesn’t track its wearer’s steps, count calories or show notifications. It does, however, link its owner via Bluetooth to a corresponding Christophe & Co phone app that gives access to a 24-hour concierge and invites to exclusive Amrill-wearers-only events. The company promises that future upgrades are in order, so it may only be a matter of time before the Amrill is able to track steps, and show alerts like the majority of such devices in the market. In the meantime, perhaps the concierge can be summoned to manually count those steps?

ECSmartJewellery_-UngaroUngaro – For a French touch
Vaguely resembling a voluptuous seashell when worn on the finger, the Ungaro ring, designed by French fashion house Emanuel Ungaro, encompasses all that the brand is known for, namely, flamboyance and bold silhouettes. It was created in collaboration with Omate, a company that, until now, has specialised in designing smart watches.

Perhaps due to its smaller size, Ungaro has very limited functions; it is only capable of notifying the wearer of phone calls and messages from one chosen contact. Omate’s clever marketing spiel turns this limitation into romance by calling Ungaro the link to the single most important person in its wearer’s life. It connects to its owner’s phone via Bluetooth and vibrates when the chosen contact sends a message or calls. With such limited usage, the battery is estimated to last around five days with every charge.

Emanuel Ungaro enjoys a certain cache as a European designer and the “pedigree” certainly extends to the Ungaro ring. Made in Italy and offered in a gold or silver-plated finish, the centrestone comes in blue topaz, opalite, onyx, sapphire, and ruby. Prices range from US$500 to US$2000 (RM2,050 to RM8,200).

ECSmartJewellery_MicaMica – The one for fashionistas
It’s not a computer, but the Mica is probably as close to one as a bracelet could get. For one, there’s Intel inside. On the outside, however, it’s all style – the accessory is, after all, designed by Opening Ceremony, the fashion and lifestyle retailer best known for its bold collaborations with the fashion industry’s trendiest names. Available in two versions, both priced at US$495 (RM2,030), the bracelet comes in black snakeskin with pearls and lapis lazuli or white snakeskin with tiger’s eye and obsidian.

Mica stands for “My Intelligent Communication Accessory” and it stands out as one of the few – if not only – smart jewellery that is able to function as a standalone device and is not simply a mere transmitter of notifications from a phone. For this, it is equipped with a functional screen – protected by sapphire crystal glass, no less – which sits discreetly on the underside of the wrist when the bracelet is worn. Just like on a smart phone, the screen displays emails, text messages and social media alerts, but it does more than that – it allows the user to reply to messages, too. The device is connected to a mobile network by AT&T and comes with two years of wireless service including international data roaming. And yes – this makes it almost a smart phone, which is why every Mica bracelet comes with its own mobile number.

ECSmartJewellery_TyiaTyia – Going incognito
Yes, it lights up when a notification comes in on your phone, it is linked to said phone via Bluetooth, and no, it cannot function independently of the phone. In many ways, the Tyia bracelet appears to be just another smart accessory confounded by the same limitations. But it’s actually a little more sophisticated than that.

Creator Ben Isaacson used to work with email filtering, and he has used his expertise to create a smart accessory that allows wearers to see only what they wish to see instead of lighting up indiscriminately. Owners customise their Tyia by inputting keywords that they want the bracelet to react to with an alert, so only emails, text messages or calendar appointments containing the submitted keywords will cause the device to light up – with 256 coloured lights to choose from. It can be further customised with different vibration patterns to indicate level of importance. A call from a family member, which the user may never want to miss, for example, can be linked to a different vibration rhythm from a call from an acquaintance.

Available in 18-carat yellow and rose gold plated, silver, and gunmetal with interchangeable black or brown single or double-wrap leather straps, the bracelet is topped with quartz fused to a thin layer of mother-of-pearl backing. The gem is what glows to display alerts. The original Tyia already looks good enough, but a diamond-embellished version designed by critically acclaimed jeweller Walter Adler Chefitz is in the works.

ECSmartJewellery_SwarovskiSwarovski Shine – The Chameleon
Smart accessory start-up Misfit has partnered with Swarovski to create the Swarovski Shine, a smart accessory that is anything but a misfit. The key component in the device is the oversized Swarovski Activity Crystal, which can be mounted onto different bands and necklaces to be transformed into a fashionable bracelet, watch or pendant, whichever suits the mood.

The Shine is primarily a fitness tracker, and has to be combined with Misfit’s mobile app to work. Users set fitness goals with the app and simply remove the Activity Crystal from its wristband or chain to tap it on the indicated area in the appropriate section within the app to view the day’s activity as recorded by the crystal. Besides logging physical activity, the Shine can also be used for monitoring sleep and weight, and counting calories. With a double tap, it even lights up to show the time like a watch.

The Shine crystal comes in two colours, clear or violet. Both versions are waterproof. More notable is the violet, which is solar-powered – a first for activity trackers. It is designed with a solar panel beneath the crystal and with the faceted crystal directing light onto the panel, can be fully charged with just 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure. The product comes in “starter kits” consisting various combinations of bracelets and chain options. Prices for the kits range between US$169-249 (RM693-1,021). Nine additional accessories – chains, straps and bracelets – are available, each costing up to US$150 (RM615).

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