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The latest in tiny technology: smart rings let you hide the phone but see alerts, discreetly

Hear the word “wearable technology” – or “wearables,” for short – and you likely conjure up images of fitness trackers or smartwatches.

Add “smart rings” to that list, too. Yes, your finger might be the next place you’ll don some tech.

While some early examples of smart rings have already come and gone (namely, Ringly), a host of others are attempting to fuse functionality with fashion.  I took three such smart rings out for a spin: two available now and one coming soon. Here’s a look at what I found.

Blinq ($149 to $199; blinqblinq.com)

Blinq is a line of fashion-forward jewelry that lets you keep your smartphone tucked away in a purse or pocket, yet still be (discretely) notified when a call, text or email comes in, as well as other notifications tied to your calendar or favorite apps.

In the Blinq companion app for iOS and Android, you’ll assign colors to specific apps – like seeing the ring glow blue for a text message, green for an Instagram comment, or purple for when your Uber is nearby – but you can also assign colors to specific people, like red for when your partner messages you. If you like, the Blinq ring also vibrates to alert you to notifications.

Available in 12 different styles and in one of three finishes (rose, yellow and white gold), each Blinq ring is made from sterling silver or 14K gold.

Blinq will be available on Amazon this summer.

Motiv Ring ($199; mymotiv.com)

 Available now, the Motiv Ring is a fitness-centric wearable.  After ordering the ring, you’ll first receive a sizing kit, where you can try on various mock rings, and then select the desired size, and color (slate gray or rose gold).

Motiv Ring houses a 3-axis accelerometer that tracks steps taken, heart rate, calories burned, and sleep activity (if you woke up, when, and for how long). It’s also waterproof (up to 165 feet), should you want to calculate your swimming exercises. All your activity data can be seen on the iOS and Android app.  At less than 0.1 inches thick, the titanium Motiv Ring is thinner than two nickels and weighs less than a penny. Battery life lasts up to three days, with two USB charges included in the box.

NFC Ring ($115 for OPN model; nfcring.com)

 Made with scratch-resistant ceramics, the minimalist-looking OPN from NFC Ring offers a few different applications. All of them, however, leverage near field communication (NFC) technology.  One use-case scenario is to tap your ring on another NFC-enabled device, such as a friend’s smartphone, and then content – that you choose ahead of time — magically appears on the other person’s screen. This could be contact information (vCard), your website, text, a link to your Twitter or Facebook page, a YouTube video, and more.

While not tested, OPN may also be able to replace your NFC fobs and cards, such as what you might use to get into an office building or condo tower. Or you can use it to unlock your mobile device or programmed to open a specific app or settings (like turning on Wi-Fi or Bluetooth), by simply tapping the ring on your phone or tablet.

While NFC Ring cannot be used for mobile payments, its parent company, McLear, is readying a payment-enabled smart ring that looks similar to OPN (price and launch date not determined just yet).  Available in white or black, NFC Ring comes with two special NFC tag inlays inside the ring, one for public information and one for more sensitive stuff, says the company.

Put away the phone

Each costing between $100 and $200, these rings were ready for primetime – with Blinq my favorite out of the bunch.

Interestingly, each of the three rings I tried have a different focus: Blinq was a fashion statement that lets you see and feel notifications; Motiv is mostly for activity and sleep; while NFC Ring is to easily transfer info to another device, unlock your phone or let you into a place that requires an NFC keycard.  There’s a bit of crossover, too, such as Blinq’s ability to track fitness, like Motiv, but each ring had its own primary purpose.

While the look won’t be for everyone, and is designed for women, Blinq was the most versatile, colorful, and customizable. One minor issue: the USB wireless charger was an odd shape, and as such, the ring didn’t always stay on the sensor.

Another ring I wanted to try, Oura (ouraring.com), wasn’t quite ready yet, but should be coming out this summer, and will specialize in sleep tracking.

Source: usatoday

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