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Slip your finger in this ring and unlock your backdoor, phone, etc
Take a look at this new NFC jewellery – why, what were you thinking of?
Put away the marigold gloves, this ring can take anything
So for the moment it’s a pair of NXP NTAG 203 chips, especially made for the NFC Ring and tuned to the titanium they are using for the band. A special polymer coating protects the silicon.
Remember, this has to survive a much harsher environment than is usual for electronics. You don’t shower with a phone or use it to do the washing up. Future models will cater for gold, platinum and then silver rings.
McLear says he's found that phone hardware varies tremendously, and is the first person I’ve met who doesn’t like the metal back on the HTC One M8: “The only place where the NFC works is by the camera lens”.
Software is also a big issue. Clearly there is no iPhone option. It’s rumoured for the iPhone 6 but then it was for every past generation. McLear's NFC Ring supports Android and Windows Phone – Android works better because you can use it to unlock the phone, whereas Windows' proximity API doesn’t allow access when the phone is locked. The best use for an NFC Ring, as a Windows Phone user, is to link to a web page.
For an Android user it’s an elegant solution and has certainly captured the imagination of a lot of people. The successfully completed Kickstarter project sold 10,000 rings and they have sold 5,000 more since, partly thanks to backing from Audrey Capital.
There is major investment in the production and quality control, with the initial manufacturing in China. McLear is keen to find UK companies with the technology, particularly for the polymer coating, to start up production over here.
The current ring is passive but future plans include active devices with inductive charging. This is much more ambitious as a ring needs to last very much longer than the technology we are used to.
Jewellery is a very different market to technology. It’s attractive because the margins are so much higher but brings other issues: “10 per cent of people get their size wrong when they order” said McLear, but with experience he’s getting on top of the issues.
He’s clearly come a long way in a week of wearing a titanium NFC Ring it’s proved comfortable and reliable, it does just what it says on the tin. ®