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Smart Rings? (Insert Weak “Lord of the Rings” Reference Here)

In an effort to bring a whole new level of convenience to wearable technology, smart rings have begun to emerge as of late, with a considerable level of funding on such platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Competing varieties of these rings range from chunky, metallic wearables to more “sassy,” ornate pieces set with semi-precious stones.

Despite the hype (and somewhat cheesy, high-reaching marketing), some of these devices are remarkably inconvenient and beg the question: How in the hell is this going to make staying connected any easier? And with the advent of smartwatches, are smart rings really that useful? Or even necessary?

god finger4

They mainly serve as a Bluetooth-enabled device which vibrates or displays notifications when you receive calls, texts, tweets, etc., on your smartphone. The rings also allows the wearer to (in theory) make finger gestures to remotely perform numerous actions on their phones (writing messages, selecting music, sending a photo of what you ordered for lunch).

Are people’s needs so pressing, their schedules so unbearably busy, that they have no time to take out their actual phone and perform these actions?

A quick search turned up several reviews of this smart bling. Some were more heavy-handed in their promotion, complete with pre-order buttons for each, while other write-ups called out the clunkiness and laughable (lack of) performance and/or practicality that certain rings demonstrate when actually tested.

Most notably is the aptly named “Ring,” which was first created by Logbar Inc. in 2013 and has undergone several revisions since. Late last year, Gizmodo ran a scathing yet fair review of Ring on YouTube, by tech reviewer Snazzy Labs. As the video reveals, the ring is huge, uncomfortable, and seems to fail almost completely in accomplishing the types of tasks for which it was specifically designed—sending messages, adjusting music volume, controlling lights in your home, etc.

As the video opens, we see portions of a promo showing someone writing a message in the air while in their car. Whether you approve of, or even understand, the addictive (and often recognition-needy) behavior of many to go five minutes without checking or replying to something, we can all agree that there’s a time and a place. And that time and place is not hurtling down the freeway at 60+ mph while attempting to make super precise air gestures in order to send a text message.

So even if the newest version of Ring performs better and less precise gesturing is perhaps possible, do we really need even more distracted drivers or pedestrians out there not paying attention to their surroundings?

There seems to be no limit to the extent that people will go to in order to remain “connected,” potentially at the expense of the safety of hundreds. As if “smartphone zombies” weren’t bad enough—falling down stairs and wandering into the streets or train tracks on their phones—2015 is now bringing us the release of these ridiculous distractions?

Innovation is great, don’t get me wrong. And most would agree that it’s a good thing to push ahead with what wearable tech can do. But it’s equally important to take a step back as well and ask ourselves if maybe these rings don’t belong in the lab still.