This Month in Wearables: March 2016



Major news and new releases in the world of wearables

Welcome to the latest installment of JCK’s This Month in Wearables—a monthly rundown of what’s hot and happening in the world of wearable devices and technology. 

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Photo courtesy of Ringly

Ringly Debuts a Bracelet
Ringly, the famous smart-ring maker, is branching out into bracelets. Aries—a new bracelet collection that attaches a faceted stone to a thin, gold-plated bracelet—is now available for preorder for $195 at Ringly.com. It mirrors Ringly’s functionality—alerting users via LED light and/or vibration to calls, texts, and emails. But Aries also tracks steps and fitness. “That was a highly requested feature from our customers,” founder Christina Mercando d’Avignon told Wareable.com. “They would come back to us saying, I love wearing the step tracker I have, but I don’t like the way it looks.” There are two styles so far: one with a pyramid-shape stone (encasing the device) and one with a diamond accent next to the center stone. Lapis, tourmalated quartz, rainbow moonstone, and labradorite are the current stone choices.

 

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(Photo courtesy of Oculus Rift)

Oculus Rift Debuts
It’s not a piece of jewelry or a watch, but it has to be mentioned here: the mack daddy of virtual reality (VR) devices has finally come to market: the much panted over Oculus Rift virtual reality headset—created to take digital gamers into exciting 3-D realms. The bulky headset immerses players in a “real” experience by feeding their eyes two streams of video simultaneously, but coming from different angles—so the brain is tricked into seeing things in 3-D The gaming system is interesting on its own, but jewelers looking for new and interesting marketing opportunities and in-store experiences should follow the rise of VR—it’s a popular and fascinating technology that’s set to expand into numerous facets of our culture in years to come. Imagine creating picture-perfect try-on sessions for jewelry buyers virtually? 

 

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(Photo courtesy of Apple)

Apple Watch Price Drops
JCK news director Rob Bates reported last week that Apple dropped the price of its watches. The entry-level model of the smartwatch is now $299, a $50 cut from its original $349 price tag. The brand also announced a new woven nylon band and new colors of sport and leather bands. “People also love changing the bands and how it gives the watch an entirely new look,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook in a statement. “About a third of our Apple Watch wearers regularly change their bands.” 

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Nixon’s the Mission Watch (photo courtesy of Nixon)

Major Brands Unveil Smartwatches at Baselworld 2016
The bustling Baselworld fair happened this month, and you can read JCK senior editor Jennifer Heebner’s excellent wrap-up of the Baselworld fair here and see some of editor-in-chief Victoria’s Gomelsky’s favorite analog timepieces here (they are major). The European show is also fast becoming a place for big brands to debut smart watches. Notable wearable launches this year included Nixon’s rugged the Mission watch for Android Wear, the stately Michael Kors Access watches, and the sleek, plain-faced Fossil Q Wander and Fossil Q Marshal models.

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(Photo courtesy of Pebble)

Pebble Suffers Layoffs
Seminal smartwatch company Pebble looks to be against the ropes financially. CEO Eric Migicovsky revealed last week that he’ll soon be letting 40 employees go—around 25 percent of the Pebble workforce. Wareable.com talked to Migicovsky, who said a lack of investment in the company is the cause of the company’s financial woes. “We got this money [$26 million in funding in 2015], but money is pretty tight these days,” he told the news outlet. Not to sound cynical, but it seems odd to me that a smartwatch start-up employs 160 professionals in the first place. Here’s hoping the brand sees better days.

(Top photo: Ringly’s new bracelet, Aries, courtesy of the company)

 

JCK Magazine Editor